With Partygoing, Stephin Merritt resurrects his side project Future Bible Heroes 11 years after the release of its last album.
Joined by Magnetic Fields band mate Claudia Gonson and DJ Christopher Ewen, Future Bibles Heroes sound like, well, The Magnetic Fields. This side project leans more on electronic instruments, but it can’t escape the dominant influence of its core member (similar to the relationship between The Mountain Goats and The Extra Glens/Lens).
This isn’t a bad thing. Listeners looking for a Magnetic Fields fix are in luck. Partygoing, sporting plenty of bittersweet one-liners and ironies, holds its own against Merritt’s more well-known work.
“Life is hard for kids today, they have to program everything. Dude, they have to use computers just to sing,” Merritt sings on “Keep Your Children In A Coma.” He confronts aging and youth from the perspective of a man who’s seen his share of parties.
Whether he’s complaining about the kids these days, reminiscing about parties where he hooked up with clowns (“Living, Loving, Partygoing”), or passing down advice from a cloned Jesus, David Bowie and a reanimated Aleister Crowley (“Drink Nothing But Champagne”), Merritt’s commands attention with genuinely funny lyrics that reveal heartbreak and sad truths.
Musically, the songs that stick out are “All I Care About Is You” with its swaying melody and “Stand By Me” inspired bass line and the final track, “When Evening Falls on Tinseltown.” The latter’s chilling vocals work well over the hodgepodge of rhythms to play the album out.
For Stephin Merritt fans, Future Bible Heroes are a must-listen, but even for those without The Magnetic Fields in their libraries there’s a good chance Partygoing will crack a few smiles.
Partygoing and re-releases of all previous Future Bible Heroes albums and EPs are available now on Merge Records.