This is probably one of the coolest sets I own. 3 volumes of love songs over six 10″ records, 12 sides, 69 songs. Originally released in 1999 on CD, in 2010 the entire work was committed to vinyl and boxed for your convenience and pleasure. Nice pressings, good recordings, good and sometimes great production values. Perhaps a little bit “fluorescent” and forward sounding rather than the familiar, incandescent tones of ordinary vinyl – 69 Love Songs is nevertheless a keeper for a host of reasons.
Stephin Merritt’s overtly quirky songsmithing is almost emblematically represented in this eccentric collection, wander as it does from synthpop to folkish acoustic to jangling hipstericity (I have no other words for bands like Yo La Tengo) to self-indulgent, maudlin torch songs. And if any of those or all of them sound unappetizing to you – trust me in that I don’t mean any of it pejoratively, because despite the obvious waypoints for a critic to stick in a fork … none of 69 love songs disappoints. Sure, Merritt’s lyrics may default into coy cleverness – but I’ll argue that’s a feature, not a flaw, as is the quirkiness that naturally nests in any Magnetic Fields joint.
The vinyl’s quiet, dynamic, undistorted, and worth every penny if you can manage to get your hands on one of the 1,000 sets this issue was limited to.