The Magnetic Fields are out-and-about on tour having recently released a new album, Realism. Realism pretty much follows the same trajectory set by 69 Love Songs – short pithy songs recorded with acoustic instrumentation. The Magnetic Fields are the only band that I can think of that has pulled a reverse Dylan – hang up their electric instruments and go entirely acoustic. The first half of MF records had keyboards and drum machines. The recent half of recordings, in contrast, eschew entirely what would pass as drums and are otherwise recorded with very lo-fi instruments: ukulele, zither, cello, etc.
I love 69 Love Songs and i as much as the next guy, but I don’t think I am alone when the pre-release press for Distortion came (“more Jesus and Mary Chain than the The Jesus and Mary Chain“), that a strong hope was kindled that MF were to return to at least Get Lost levels of production and instrumentation – which by any other bands standards, is not a high level. Alas, Distortion was a very small deviation from the current lo-fi direction.
After following The Magnetic Fields for over 10 years now, after hearing Realism, and after seeing a few of the shows supporting the album, I think that The Magnetic Fields could use a shake-up. For the next release, I suggest MF get the ‘Butch Vig’ treatment and replace the ukulele for a double neck key-tar and go ‘huge’. That would be sweet.
Here is a live take from a recent show on a classic Get Lost track.