Distortion

Submitted by nonesuch on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 19:14
Release Date
DescriptionExcerpt

The wry lyrics of Stephin Merritt, who trades off on lead vocals with Shirley Simms, combine with fuzzed-out guitar, cello, piano, and accordion on The Magnetic Fields' Distortion, an album inspired by the upfront metal-machine drone and submerged Ronettes romanticism of Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 post-punk landmark album, Psychocandy. Or, as Mojo called it, "bubblegum melodies in a bouquet of barbed wire."

Description

The Magnetic Fields’ Distortion was released by Nonesuch Records on January 15, 2008. The band’s eighth album, and second Nonesuch release, is a follow-up to 2004’s critically acclaimed i, an album whose songs all began with the letter “i,” and whose sound Magnetic Fields songwriter and frontman Stephin Merritt has referred to as “self-conciously soft rock.” Distortion is both a departure from and a response to i: an album of three-minute power-pop songs, composed and produced by Merritt and co-sung by Merritt and his longtime friend Shirley Simms. (Simms also sang on Merritt’s 1999 opus, 69 Love Songs.)

On Distortion, every instrument (except the drums) was made to purposely feed back, creating a distorted ambient roar that informs this album’s sound. “I don’t know if anyone has done feedback piano before,” Merritt explains. “The whole record has feedback acoustic piano. We put the amplifier directly up against the frame of the piano and turned it up enough to start feeding back.” The album also features feedback guitar, feedback cello, and even feedback accordion.

Distortion may startle those fans of Merritt’s who are more used to his quieter approach on the last Magnetic Fields album, but he is quick to point out that his decade-plus career has produced a wide range of styles. He jokes, “Many of my rock-oriented fans refused to buy any record called Showtunes,” referring to his 2006 compilation of songs from his work with Chinese theatre director Chen Shi-Zeng, and adds; “So this one is for them.”

The initial inspiration for Distortion was the upfront metal-machine drone and submerged Ronettes romanticism of Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 post-punk landmark Psychocandy. Merritt takes that concept a step further, radically altering the entire sound of his chamber-pop ensemble (cellist Sam Davol, pianist Claudia Gonson, and lead guitarist John Woo, plus Daniel Handler on accordion). His goal was “to sound more like Jesus and Mary Chain than Jesus and Mary Chain.”

In 1999, the Magnetic Fields’ three-CD collection 69 Love Songs established Stephin Merritt as one of this generation’s most talented songwriters, and their most recent album, i, followed in 2004. Merritt has also released numerous other albums with his bands Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, and the 6ths, as well as soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April, the theater album Showtunes, and a record of songs to accompany the popular Lemony Snicket books, entitled The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events.

 

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Recording and additional production: Charles Newman at Mother West, NY
Assistant engineer: Robert Stevens
Mix: Stephin Merritt, Charles Newman and Tom Rogers
Mastering: Jeff Lipton at Peerless, Boston
Additional mastering: Tom Rogers

All songs by Stephin Merritt

Design: Evan Gaffney Design
Logo: Michael English

Nonesuch Selection Number

327036

Number of Discs in Set
1disc
ns_album_artistid
185
ns_album_id
683
ns_album_releasedate
ns_genre_1
0
ns_genre_2
0
Album Status
Artist Name
The Magnetic Fields
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
Made by Stephin Merritt with:
Sam Davol, cello
Claudia Gonson, drums, Farfisa organ, piano, backing vocals
Daniel Handler, accordion
Shirley Simms, vocals
John Woo, lead guitar

A. Klasinski, I. Pearle, R. Stevens, orgiasts
No synths

Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
CD+MP3
UPC
075597996548BUN
Label
MP3
Price
9.00
UPC
075597980318
Label
LP+CD+MP3
Price
0.00
UPC
075597993875BUN
  • 327036

News & Reviews

  • The Magnetic Fields will tour the US next spring following a four-city tour of Latin America this December. The band closes out 2022 with concerts in Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina. The spring run of US shows starts with two nights in Denver, March 17 and 18, followed by dates in Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Austin, St. Louis (two nights), Cleveland, and Pittsburgh (two nights), culminating at City Winery Hudson Valley on April 3.

  • The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt is on the new Talkhouse podcast series Listening. On the show, curated by Elia Einhorn, artists are invited to share their perspective on how they listen to the world and how that informs the music they make. They also create a new composition for the episode and discuss the creative process behind it. “Witty, guarded, cynical, loving, heartsick, and tender—this is Stephin Merritt, or at least what we hear in the songs he pens for his acclaimed band The Magnetic Fields,” says Einhorn. You can hear their conversation and the song Merritt wrote for the show here. The Magnetic Fields kick off the next leg of their UK and European tour on August 31.

Buy Now

  • About This Album

    The Magnetic Fields’ Distortion was released by Nonesuch Records on January 15, 2008. The band’s eighth album, and second Nonesuch release, is a follow-up to 2004’s critically acclaimed i, an album whose songs all began with the letter “i,” and whose sound Magnetic Fields songwriter and frontman Stephin Merritt has referred to as “self-conciously soft rock.” Distortion is both a departure from and a response to i: an album of three-minute power-pop songs, composed and produced by Merritt and co-sung by Merritt and his longtime friend Shirley Simms. (Simms also sang on Merritt’s 1999 opus, 69 Love Songs.)

    On Distortion, every instrument (except the drums) was made to purposely feed back, creating a distorted ambient roar that informs this album’s sound. “I don’t know if anyone has done feedback piano before,” Merritt explains. “The whole record has feedback acoustic piano. We put the amplifier directly up against the frame of the piano and turned it up enough to start feeding back.” The album also features feedback guitar, feedback cello, and even feedback accordion.

    Distortion may startle those fans of Merritt’s who are more used to his quieter approach on the last Magnetic Fields album, but he is quick to point out that his decade-plus career has produced a wide range of styles. He jokes, “Many of my rock-oriented fans refused to buy any record called Showtunes,” referring to his 2006 compilation of songs from his work with Chinese theatre director Chen Shi-Zeng, and adds; “So this one is for them.”

    The initial inspiration for Distortion was the upfront metal-machine drone and submerged Ronettes romanticism of Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 post-punk landmark Psychocandy. Merritt takes that concept a step further, radically altering the entire sound of his chamber-pop ensemble (cellist Sam Davol, pianist Claudia Gonson, and lead guitarist John Woo, plus Daniel Handler on accordion). His goal was “to sound more like Jesus and Mary Chain than Jesus and Mary Chain.”

    In 1999, the Magnetic Fields’ three-CD collection 69 Love Songs established Stephin Merritt as one of this generation’s most talented songwriters, and their most recent album, i, followed in 2004. Merritt has also released numerous other albums with his bands Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, and the 6ths, as well as soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April, the theater album Showtunes, and a record of songs to accompany the popular Lemony Snicket books, entitled The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events.

     

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Made by Stephin Merritt with:
    Sam Davol, cello
    Claudia Gonson, drums, Farfisa organ, piano, backing vocals
    Daniel Handler, accordion
    Shirley Simms, vocals
    John Woo, lead guitar

    A. Klasinski, I. Pearle, R. Stevens, orgiasts
    No synths

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Recording and additional production: Charles Newman at Mother West, NY
    Assistant engineer: Robert Stevens
    Mix: Stephin Merritt, Charles Newman and Tom Rogers
    Mastering: Jeff Lipton at Peerless, Boston
    Additional mastering: Tom Rogers

    All songs by Stephin Merritt

    Design: Evan Gaffney Design
    Logo: Michael English