The Magnetic Fields' synth pop-saturated tenth studio album arrives after a trio of more guitar-oriented offerings (I, Distortion, and Realism). While Love at the Bottom of the Sea does feel like an amalgamation of Stephin Merritt's epic 69 Love Songs and his excellent work under the 6ths moniker, especially on the giddy and typically infectious first single "Andrew in Drag," overproduction and a general (and oddly generic) sense of overarching silliness keeps the 15-track set from achieving the lovely balance of dirty wit and sincere heartache that made albums like Wayward Bus and Charm of the Highway Strip so immediate and life affirming. Opener "God Wants Us to Wait," a bouncy electro-pop parody of purity ring pathos, suffers from a grating, relentless hook and Shirley Simms terse delivery, while cuts like "Infatuation (With Your Gyration)," "You're Girlfriend's Face," and "'I've Run Away to Join the Faeries" feel like second-rate comedy rock songs as opposed to the bar napkin-composed gems we've grown so used to over the years. That said, Merritt can still work his subversive magic, as evidenced by the Ian Curtis-lite "Born for Love," the aforementioned "Drag," and the typically deadpan closer "All She Cares About Is Mariachi", the latter of which manages to rhyme "Hibachi" and "Liberace" with famed ad agency "Saatchi & Saatchi."
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger