Spun: Stephin Merritt

By Darren Young

Broadway musicals have a definitive style about them. They are known for their upbeat dance numbers, sappy love ballads and general flamboyancy, but what does one make of a musical eschewing each of these elements?

Enter The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, whose new album, Showtunes, contains songs from three separate musicals he has written. These songs are not Broadway in any sense of the word and this is the true pitfall of the album. Listeners will be undoubtedly confused by the lack of showtunes and the abundance of laid back folk music. This could be interpreted as a way of playing with the listener’s expectations, but is still a frustrating concept to grasp at the same time.

Not to give any wrong impressions here. The songs themselves are well done and contain some interesting and quirky lyrics, not to mention odd song titles, like “Ukulele Me!” and “What A Fucking Lovely Day!” The music is straightforward and the atmosphere hardly changes from song to song, but Showtunes is still an enjoyable listen if you are prepared for what is to come, which is most certainly not Broadway.

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