Happy Thanksgiving, nerds! This post is about to take me forever, because I am only using one hand — the other is holding the fattest turkey leg in the history of cholesterol.
This year I am thankful for Stephin Merritt. Over the summer, the frontman of the Magnetic Fields released an LP of odds and ends that collects material from all over his discographies since the early 90’s and called it Obscurities. The standout track is the original mix of “I Don’t Believe You,” which ultimately appeared on the Magnetic Fields’ 2004 album, i.
Replacing the original song’s string arrangement with flitting dial-tone synths and up-tempo bleeps and bloops, “I Don’t Believe You (7” version) is a really digitized reimagining of Merritt’s trust issues. Although I am always impressed by Merritt’s musical ingenuity, specifically the way he can make a tired folk progression sound totally experimental, his lyrics are always the lynchpin of his music. I love how overly indulgent and self conscious he sounds when he sings:
“You tell me I’m not not cute / its truth or falsity is moot / cause honesty’s not your strong suit / and I don’t believe you.”
The impact of his words is altogether witty, self-effacing, and, most importantly, realistic. He always says something we have all thought, but he manages to say it better than anyone else ever could.