Monday, February 28, 2005

You can watch your friends through this tiny lens

Merritt frequently cites John Foxx's debut solo album Metamatic as one of his all-time favorites, and after hearing its chilly layers of synths and seemingly detached vocals, it's easy to understand why. Every instrument makes no attempt to sound natural, something that Merritt aims for on much of his work. The selection, "Touch and Go," demonstrates the use of non-drum sounds to keep the beat, a technique Merritt likes to use (listen to "Smoke and Mirrors" or "You Love to Fail" for starters), and pay attention to the lyrics, which paint a dreary picture of a possibly futuristic cityscape ("grey-blue haze," "motorway sparks," "moving stairway," etc.), sharing a kinship with "In the City in the Rain," "Tokyo Á Go-Go," and "Rats in the Garbage of the Western World."

Stephin appeared, in different incarnations, a total of three times on the Human League tribute album, Reproductions (on March Records). The contribution from Future Bible Heroes was a cover of the 80s nostalgia staple "Don't You Want Me?", which featured the trademark Merritt gender-switch trick (recall, for example, Susan Anway singing, "I can't be the man they want me to be.") It's almost comical the way Stephin emerges with his deep baritone, singing that famous line, "I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar." The original is from Dare, another of Merritt's favorite albums from the new wave era.


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