Magnetic Fields

"Andrew in Drag," the lead single of the Magnetic Field's new album

Love at the Bottom of the Sea, might be the single best song Stephin Merritt has written in years—it's certainly the closest thing they've done in some time to 1999's landmark 69 Love Songs. (Merritt, in an interview with NY Mag's Vulture blog has welcomed the comparison, referring to 69 Love Songs as a "calling card" he'd be happy to be known for for the rest of his life.) Sadly, it's also the album's best song by far, its sprightly verses and high, arching chorus as much of a feint as a dude in a dress. Elsewhere there is the familiar mix of arch synth-pop, maudlin ballads, and too-clever off-Broadway musical numbers, crackling with electric noise this time around but too often failing to carry a jolt. Still, they are famously cranky live! ERIC GRANDY

Mon., March 19, 8 p.m.; Tue., March 20, 8 p.m., 2012

 
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