Magnetic Fields

The House of Tomorrow

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The House of Tomorrow sees Stephin Merritt recording perhaps his most indifferent, ironic songs. The EP's five songs are built on both musical and vocal repetition, so much that the sleeve reads "five loop songs" as a pun on "five love songs." The EP might be Merritt's most lo-fi, yet austere, recording. It's as if Merritt has attired himself in a fuzzy set of Phil Spector ears as a Halloween costume. If the music sounds as if it was recorded in an underground church, Merritt's vocals seem to have been recorded in a submarine at the Titanic's depth. Lyrically, Merritt is in peak form. "Technical (You're So)" is one of the greatest lyrical treats in the band's discography, with Merritt singing about "think-tank entourages" and "counterculture demigods," before a punchline of "You're so technical baby/Are you a boy or a girl." "Alien Being" is the most repetitive song of the EP, with nearly every line ending with "nothing at all." Most artists would suffer at the feet of such conceits, but Merritt is at his best when he's playing tricks on himself, his love interests, and his listeners. "Either You Don't Love Me or I Don't You" is reminiscent of one of Morrissey's finest, poetic moments, suggesting that Merritt had been brushing up on his Smiths or even Robyn Hitchcock collection. Tales of love, tales of woe, tales of friends counting the drugs their lovers won't let them consume (on "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring") -- Stephin Merritt spins tales like there's no tomorrow in the house that is The House of Tomorrow.

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