Join the Boston Sunday Night Film Club this Sunday, Apr 25th at 7:30pm for Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields at the Brattle Theatre . Look for Sean wearing a nametag in the theatre lobby about 15 minutes before the film. As always, after the film we will descend on a local establishment for dinner/drinks/discussion.
The Magnetic Fields have never made it easy for those who would categorize their music. Originally labeled art pop musicians when their first album contained no guitar, they have since continued to befuddle genre watchdogs with a quirky blend of synth, strings, experimental percussion, pop overtones, folk undertones, and, of course, that magical special ingredient: Stephin Merritts deep, lulling vocals. Merritts tone massages a catalog of richly poignant lyrics that are quite the rare find in the pop-music thicketoften most notable for their delicate simplicity.
On the other hand, Merritt himself has never made it easy for those who would categorize him. His intense demeanor has been the subject of many a sour rumor over his 20-plus-year career. Some of these ill reports he may indeed have earned through antisocial behavior. Some, however, were bitter and undeserved cutsthe price he suspects he must pay for being a high-profile sitting duck.
Directors Kerthy Fix and Gail OHara provide us with comfortable, homey access to Merritt and the most important, grounding influence in his life: his decades-long friendship with his chipper musical collaborator Claudia Gonson. On his home turf, in the apartment that has doubled as the studio for the lions share of his recordings, Merritt is anything but prickly or uncooperative. He is a reflective, passionate, and even playful artist who is producing many of the great songs of his generation.