Such is realism. Right? No. Such is Realism, the brilliant new album from The Magnetic Fields. This is their NINTH album, following up from their Distortion album of 2008, which was… distorted. Follow that up with a nice shot of realism and I think you’re going somewhere good. The new album is an entirely acoustic (no distortion, I swear!) orchestral pop album. And it’s wonderful. According to the press release it “examines what ‘real’ really means in recorded music, exploring the sincerity (or lack thereof) of folk lyrics and their delivery”. This is a concept album about realism that is half filled with great romantic break-up songs and half filled with brilliant explorations of the idea of realism–explorations that include Christmas trees, mermaids, tea parties with dolls, ghost princesses, wolfboys, and dances with martians. Each song seems to give another person’s perspective on what’s real. And that, my dear, is delicious (especially the one about The Doll’s Tea Party– tasty and pink and filled with cakes!). And these lyrics are great.
There’s realism in the opening track “You Must Be Out of Your Mind” — “If you think you can leave the past behind you must be out of your mind”.
And then there’s the “realism” in “The Dada Polka” — “People of Earth, when you dance, dance the Dada Polka. Life is only a dream.”
And finally the breakup finale, “From a Sinking Boat” — “Know that I wrote my last words to you from a sinking boat”
The Magnetic Fields are notorious for writing brilliant pop songs, and they simply haven’t stopped. This newest album is a good continuation of the legacy that they started with “69 Love Songs” and “i”. This is worth listening to, if not for the catchy tunes, then at least for the supposed exploration of what’s real. That’s where music gets fun.
The new album is out on Tuesday, but you can preview the whole album at their myspace.
****Lastly, let’s all take note of the similarities between the album artwork for Realism (see the top of the post) and the artwork for Distortion, below: