Love at the Bottom of the Sea marks a return to The Magnetic Fields' abrasive electropop, which isn't always to the songs' advantage.
Combined with Stephin Merritt's sombre baritone, it never lets you forget you're listening to skilfully crafted exercises in acidic wit, with the pop imperatives of memorable melody and hummable hook a distant second to the auteur relish of lines such as "Let Laramie take care o' me till they bury me." Claudia Gonson brings a petulant candour to the spite of "Your Girlfriend's Face", and "Infatuation (with Your Gyration)" evokes a Numanoid level of dancefloor alienation, but overall it's more admirable than enjoyable. Though it would be interesting to hear how a better vocal stylist might animate "The Machine in Your Hand", with its modern anxiety of losing out to a lover's smartphone.
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