Say what you will about Stephin Merritt, but when the Magnetic Fields singer-songwriter wants to do a musical project, he does it big, or at least with some intense conceptual focus. His latest project—announced back in May—is a (get this) five-disc collection of 50 songs, one for and about every year he’s been alive. Out March 3, 50 Song Memoir will be the band’s first album since 2012’s Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Check out the odd but strangely appealing cover art above.)
Today, Merritt has posted five of the new record’s songs, for the years 1974, 1986, 1993, 2002, and 2013. No big stylistic changes here, but the videos allow you to follow along with Merritt’s witty, spare lyrics as they are digitally scrawled across a journal page.
All of this is very on-the-nose stuff for the Fields, but you have to admire the scope of their vision. The heavy-strummed songs themselves hit on familiar touchtones, jumping from cultural critique to tributes to hedonism, and dour love ballads. In a press release for the album, it’s noted that Merritt plays “more than 100 instruments, from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus” on the album, and that it will also be released as a bound book with handwritten lyrics.
Even though the LP isn’t due until next year, Merritt and the band have announced a series of shows before and after release day, where they will perform the entire album (or rather, box set) across two nights. The mini-tour kicks off in Massachusetts on Friday at Mass MoCA.
Listen to all five new songs and peruse the Fields’ tour dates below.
The Magnetic Fields tour:
11/18-19 – North Adams, MA @ MASS MoCA
12/02-03 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Academy Of Music
3/15-16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
3/19-20 – Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre
3/21-22 – Durham, NC @ Carolina Theatre
3/24-25 – Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival
3/27-28 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
4/14-15 – Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center
4/19-20 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
4/22-23 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fitzgerald Theatre
4-27-28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Royce Hall
4/30 – 5/01 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
5/03-04 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
5/06-07 – Seattle, WA @ The Moore Theatre