An anthology of outtakes, singles and unreleased Magnetic Fields songs, Obscurities demonstrates that even at less than full power, Merritt still wields the kind of wry wit that can cut to an unexpected depth, emotionally.
His Coward-like way with a rhyming couplet – "I'll give you all the colours of the rainbow/ They say it can't be done, but what do they know?" – is strongly featured on the three songs from an unfinished sci-fi musical co-written with Lemony Snicket, The Song from Venus, while his more waspish demurrals of others' emotions are outlined over the fizzing, sardonic electropop of tracks such as "Rot in the Sun" and "Yet Another Girl". Merritt's main problem may be that his baritone croon makes him sound cynical even when he's baring his heart, an impression only partly undercut by his occasional ukulele strum.
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