The Magnetic Fields Quickies (Nonesuch) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, January 23rd, 2021  

The Magnetic Fields



May 15, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Stephen Merritt and company couldn’t have planned this better had they known in advance that a global pandemic would sweep the world, sending everyone into social lockdown and conditioning themselves for an ever-more depressing new normal. These kings and queens of cohesively themed records absolutely delivered the exact Magnetic Fields album the world needs right now: something distracting, light-hearted, and—god bless ‘em—a bit dumb. It’s delightful.

Quickies is a collection of 28 tracks, none more than two minutes, 35 seconds long; more than half are under two minutes. It’s a fast-paced burst of music akin to Double Nickels on the Dime, or the last 21 tracks of They Might Be Giants’ Apollo 18, particularly when songs (i.e. “Death Pact”) take less than a minute to set up a joke before ending. There’s a sense of humor at play throughout most of these tracks, both lowbrow and high. “The Biggest Tits in History” is a raunchy piece of wordplay—imagine AC/DC’s “Big Balls” or Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-ling,” but for the indie set—that elicits plenty of giggles with its naughty-sounding lyrics about big, bouncing tits. (The song is about birds—trust us!) Then you have “Bathroom Quickie,” which is more straight-forward with its R-rated humor: “Pick me up, let’s have a bathroom quickie/Give me an enormous hickey, like a tattoo.” There’s so much that’s so silly, so adult-oriented yet so unabashedly juvenile.    

Other tracks are a bit more satirical. Lead single “The Day the Politicians Died” imagines a world where elected officials all drop dead at once, and everyone in the world—even their “own mothers, husbands, and wives”—throws a big party. “You’ve Got a Friend in Beelzebub” tells the story of a character who enjoys a pleasant afternoon tea with demons and archdevils. “Let’s Get Drunk (And Get Divorced)” is probably one of the funnier songs that could be written about a crumbling marriage: “We were drunk when we got married/Let’s get drunk again, and get divorced/I was blotto at our wedding/For all I know, I was forced.”    

Quickies is an issue of MAD Magazine in musical form. It’s a ton of fun, and absolutely a welcome relief to the situation we’re going right now. Is it uneven in places? Yeah, I guess. Do some of the gags get old on repeat visits? Sure. Will we want to listen to it as much post-pandemic, as some of The Magnetic Fields’ other, more mature records? Probably not. But, for however long COVID-19 is ruining our good times, it’s going to be really hard to flip this one off. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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