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Future Bible Heroes – I’m Lonely (And I Love It) EP

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Merge Records, 2000

Let it be known that I am a big Stephin Merritt fan.  I have pretty much everything he’s been involved in save for some of the more recent soundtrack albums and perhaps a compilation or two.  One item I had not picked up due to its length and cost was the “I’m Lonely (And I Love It)” EP, which has only five songs on it.  For a dollar and a return to electropop, I thought the time had come for me to own this quick one for myself.  The only resistant thought in my head was pondering the idea that maybe this piece of square plastic might be one Merritt product too much.  No … no …

Well, maybe.  For those in the dark about Stephin Merritt, he started up a few bands like the Magnetic Fields, the Future Bible Heroes, the 6ths, and the Gothic Archies.  All bands, apart from the ‘Fields, represent side bands for Merritt’s periodic penchant for dabbling in music that doesn’t quite fit the main mold.  The Future Bible Heroes are his bubbly electronic outfit and he managed to release an engagingly fun record in 1997 entitled “Memories of Love”.  During a time when the Magnetic Fields’ “69 Love Songs” was huge, it’s amazing Merritt had enough time to even put anything together for this EP given how busy he was.

The Future Bible Heroes consist of Merritt, singer Claudia Gonson and electronico Christopher Ewen.  Even though three years had passed since the last record, the five songs on this short album are actually only four new songs plus a remix of a song off of “Memories of Love”.  Hmm.  The title track is easily the best tune on here, but at nearly five minutes in length even Merritt’s fine lyrics about the thrill of being alone and away from an ex-lover get a little tired.  “My Blue Hawaii” never really catches on with any sort of hook and is instead rather abrasive with its pulsating beat and guitar chord jabs.

It is always nice to hear Gonson’s lilting voice but “Cafe Hong Kong” seems out of place with its brake-slamming dreariness.  It is a song that really sounds hollow and creepy with its echoed drum machine and sparse guitar plucking.  “Good Thing I Don’t Have Any Feelings” returns with Merritt and his deep baritone voice singing about a harsh parting.  Replace the synthesizers with some instruments and it likely could have been a Magnetic Fields song.  It’s a pity that the rest of the EP couldn’t have more of this kind of song.  Oh yeah, “Hopeless (remix)” … well, just buy “Memories of Love”.

The Future Bible Heroes can be found at the usual place as well as the usual MySpace.  However, if you want to check out why I’m into this guy’s stuff so much I suggest the House of Tomorrow website!

Is “I’m Lonely…” more of a b-side collection for the Magnetic Fields than an intentional Future Bible Heroes release?  Or did Merritt need something to distract him from all that love stuff that the Magnetic Fields just finished with?  Hey, it doesn’t really matter, especially if one likes his stuff to begin with.  Ultimately, this collection is worth a listen once or twice but doesn’t have a lot of reason to stick on someone’s music shelf.  Merritt, of course, continues to put out a Magnetic Fields record with his group every other year or so.  As for his other projects, it is unpredictable as to if or when another release will even happen.

Given that I tend to build up my expectations when I look forward to something, this EP is a personal Bust in music and long term desirability.  Maybe, even in its shortened state, I thought the EP was going to be brilliant.  I suppose there aren’t any musicians that are untouchable, so this one gets chalked up as one of Merritt’s few disappointments for me in his lengthy catalog.  I imagine that I’ll continue to keep looking forward to whatever he gets into, but this one is going back to the plastic dustbin.

Future Bible Heroes – I’m Lonely EP

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Merge Records, 2000

Haha, now this is easy!  Folks, what I have not told you and what you are very imminently about to find out is that I am a full-fledged Stephin Merritt fan.  I’m not sure when I fell into the lull of the Magnetic Fields, but everything they have put out has been keenly listened to by yours truly.  In fact, pretty much anything with Stephin Merritt’s name on it I make an effort to seek out and certainly listen to with enthusiasm.  This includes all of Merritt’s side projects like the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and the Future Bible Heroes.  Lo and behold, this little EP was tossed casually in a dim, cheap location and I could not help but acquire it.

Registering just under twenty minutes for five tracks, this record continues the veiled melancholic style that Merritt likes to employ with all of his groups.  The Future Bible Heroes usually has a more electronic, busy sound than the Magnetic Fields, so it is no surprise that the title track is soaked with synthesizer beats and hurried pace.  It’s somewhat difficult to pick out all of the various parts and bits that this song is consisted of, but like “Blond Adonis” on a previous record, these Future Bible Heroes songs tend to be so excitable that they could be mistaken for a lower key club tune.  Well, I’d be dancing.  Merritt’s voice, which is one of the deeper ones in popular music, flows easily without concern throughout the song as if he really is quite fine with being alone.

The other songs on the EP continue the saturation of synth, with “Blue Hawaii” continuing the speediness that “I’m Lonely” started and “Cafe Hong Kong” starkly plodding along to Claudia Gonson’s cool vocals.  “Good Thing I Don’t Have Any Feelings”, which sounds as depressing as one might think, features Merritt at his deepest while he numbly tells off whoever it is that he’s impervious to the emotional assault of a break up.  Finally, a remix of “Hopeless” from their first record sends the listener off to a poppy happiness amidst the lyrics of despair.  Songs sound happy, lyrics are depressing as hell … this is great stuff, people!

I can’t necessarily recommend this as a must grab for dollar bin divers for it only has four original tracks and a remix.  However, none of these four tunes show up on the Future Bible Heroes’ follow up full length record “Eternal Youth”, so if you’re already a Merritt fan then perhaps this is worth a little bit to get.  If these songs don’t do it for you at all, well, I’m shocked perhaps you might like some of Merritt’s other acts.  For a group that doesn’t make a direct effort to make you feel one way or another, the Future Bible Heroes are worth a listen for those who like pop but feel that they’ve heard it all before.  Now if we could just get another 6ths album sometime soon …