Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Magnetic Fields: The Wayward Bus [PoPuP, 1992]
In this Amerindie version of the Eurythmics, Stephin Merritt pulls Susan Anway's strings: where Annie would belt these metronomic tunes all the way to Vegas, Anway trills them in a sweet monotone and is grateful she can manage that. She's proud to play the puppet, which is a good thing because synthere thongwriter Merritt would drop her if she wasn't. First time out the literary brilliance of his doggerel lapped over into an obscurity his crude sonic eccentricities sometimes rendered unlistenable. Here he's learned to mesh straight pop parodies with well-turned, thought-through, not-quite-representational lyrics in which Anway usually plays a guy. Many are just mildly subversive love songs. But my favorite is so flat-out campy it could have been inspired by a Man From U.N.C.L.E. rerun. B+