The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 3rd


Music Review: Future Bible Heroes

Future Bible Heroes

Indie electronic

At first glance, Future Bible Heroes’s Partygoing seems to simply be a retread of The Magnetic Fields’ classic synthpop origins circa their seminal records Holiday and Get Lost. And to compound these concerns is the makeup of the group: Magnetic Fields member Claudia Gonson, Fields frontman Stephin Merritt (who also wrote the entirety of the songs on the album), and composer Christopher Ewen (who often collaborated with the Fields). The concept is further belabored now that the Fields returned to their synthesizer heavy sound with 2012’s Love at the Bottom of the Sea. But ultimately, the sonic retread of the album’s sound proves minor in light of the elegant and masterful songwriting.

Like nearly all of Merritt’s material, the lyrical themes constantly deal with isolation and heartbreak, and his always unique and captivating worldview shines on highlights “Satan, Your Way is a Hard One” and “Love is a Luxury I Can No Longer Afford.” The dark humor (and David Bowie impression) on “Drink Nothing but Champagne” is endearing and hilarious, and the beautiful “When Evening Falls on Tinseltown” is a touching and sentimental ode to the City of Angels. And while each listener will have his or her personal favorite (mine is “Sadder Than the Moon”), these songs, like all of Merritt’s work, hold plenty for anyone who can relate to forlorn tales of love and loss.

Ewen’s electronic arrangements throughout the album perfectly compliment Merritt’s melodies, and each song features shimmering, keyladen backing to either Merritt’s signature melancholy baritone or Gonson’s soft lilting voice. With the (highly publicized) return of indie synthpop collaboration The Postal Service, the syrupy synth sound of Partygoing feels less of the ‘80s and more like a sign of the times. And coupled with Merritt’s classic songwriting at the forefront, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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