Acclaimed Albums – 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 97/250Title: 69 Love Songs
Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Year: 1999
Position:
#247

Well, so much for sticking with albums that are unlikely to fall out of the Top 250.

69 Love Songs is easily the longest album on the list. It’s also one of those rare examples where the album’s title provides the perfect description of the contents; namely the 69 love songs.

Now Stephin Merritt, the writer and general lead of The Magnetic Fields, has said of this album that this is not an album about love, but rather an album about love songs. With 69 songs over three hours this album does cover a lot of the bases – although pretty much all favourite songs on this album are tongue in cheek.

Just listen to ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits’ and try not to smile. Then look at the lyrics, listen to the song again and try not to laugh. Same goes for ‘Zebra’, although you won’t need to look up the lyrics to work out that Zelda the zebra has gotten lonely.

Although, if we are talking about a proper highlight from this album I am going for ‘No One Will Ever Love You’. Since I first got this album back in 2009 I have probably only listened to it all the way through in one stretch twice (I count toilet breaks as part of the stretch) and this is a song that hit me both times.

The thing is, I know that on the second run through there were different songs that hit me compared to the first time. I think that’s what is truly astonishing about this album. Yes, listening to the same album over the course of three hours can get a bit intense and songs can merge into one. However, so many of these songs stand on their own (not all as tracks like ‘Love Is Like Jazz’ and ‘How Fucking Romantic’ really need the context of the album in order to feel like… songs) and that’s what stops this album from descending into gimmicky.

It feels like an incredibly intense study into what makes a love song. There are no sweepingly lush orchestrations as that isn’t the style of the band, but it’s a study of the different ways to approach the love song whether it be hopeful, gleeful, maudlin or bitter. No matter where you currently are in your personal love quest (ew can not believe I typed that) there will be a song that can become part of your personal soundtrack. I guess for me, at the moment, that would be ‘Zebra’.

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