As a songwriter, Stephin Merritt is impressive if not totally convincing. Just because he had enough gumption to write 69 Love Songs doesn’t sell a person on the notion of owning every single Magnetic Fields album on the planet. (At least it didn’t for me.)
As a lyricist, Merritt is a master, as the title track to the Future Bible Heroes I’m Lonely (And I Love It) aptly demonstrates.
A series of contradictory sentiments, “I’m Lonely (And I Love It)” revels in clever cognitive dissonance. “It’s the strangest thing, I’m sad and I don’t care/And I’m dancing on air.”
Out of Merritt’s four simultaneous projects, Future Bible Heroes is an evenly split collaboration. Merritt contributes only lyrics; the task of songwriting falls to Christopher Ewen.
Ewen is blissfully — maybe even blessfully — trapped in a time warp. The EP starts off with the sort of fast-paced arpeggio Tears For Fears used on “Change,” and from there, it’s all analog MIDI — the glorious sound of early-80s New Wave.
No one has written this kind of music since 1981, and it’s refreshing to hear it done in 2000.
Think of a sunnier Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode on Prozac on such tracks as “My Blue Hawaii” or “Good Thing I Don’t Have Any Feelings.”
Call it bias on my part, but my favorite moments on 69 Love Songs were the times Merritt went the New Wave route on his clunky Kurzweil K-2000. I’m Lonely (and I Love It) delivers a full EP of those moments.
Hence, it’s an instant keeper for anyone raised during Ronald Reagan’s first term as president.