Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Consumer Guide Album

Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs [Merge, 1999]
Accusing Stephin Merritt of insincerity would be like accusing Cecil Taylor of playing too many notes--not only does it go without saying, it's what he's selling. I say if he'd lived all 69 songs himself he'd be dead already, and the only reality I'm sure they attest to is that he's very much alive. I dislike cynicism so much that I'm reluctant ever to link it to creative exuberance. But this cavalcade of witty ditties--one-dimensional by design, intellectual when it feels like it, addicted to cheap rhymes, cheaper tunes, and token arrangements, sung by nonentities whose vocal disabilities keep their fondness for pop theoretical--upends my preconceptions the way high art's sposed to. The worst I can say is that its gender-fucking feels more wholehearted than its genre-fucking. Yet even the "jazz" and "punk" cuts are good for a few laughs--total losers are rare indeed. My favorite song from three teeming individually-purchasable-but-what-fun-would-that-be CDs: "The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure," who has the savoir faire to rhyme with "closure," "kosher," and "Dozier" before Merritt murders him. A+