A few weeks ago we saw the Magnetic Fields in concert, and jolly fine they were too. Immediately afterwards I punished the credit card and got as much of Stephin Merritt’s non-MF back catalogue as I could find. As well as solo work such as Showtunes, he’s appeared with the Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies and the 6ths (with a staggering array of guest vocalists).
During the encore Claudia Gonson said that The Gothic Archies was possibly one of Stephin’s finest achievements. I give you Smile! No-one Cares How You Feel:
The song is part of A Tragic Treasury, a collection of songs to go with the audiobooks for Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I own those as well – unremarkable at first they became oddly addictive on the commute. A Gothic Archies track gives a theme to each of the 13 books.
The Magnetic Fields have already set the bar extremely high with 69 Love Songs, but A Tragic Treasury comes very close, maybe even second. Possibly Stephin is at his best when writing concept albums – and focuses just as well on misery as love. I recommend the album even if you can’t stand Lemony Snicket.