We know from Stephin Merritt that he likes to set himself tricky tasks: for example to fill a triple album with sixty-nine love songs, to record another one under the sign of the distortion pedal or to consciously avoid the synthesizer, as recently with "Realism". The successor can now bathe in synth sounds all the more exuberantly. The Californian of his choice mixes yellowed retro sounds with programmed electronics. At times trashy Casio tones shape the mood ("Infatuation"), elsewhere waving guitar effects mix with angular electro rhythms in the style of early Depeche Mode singles. "Your Girlfriend's Face" with Claudia Gonson's heart-warm voice is, after all, mischievous bubblegum pop. As always, Merritt breaks the apparent guilelessness of the catchy pop miniatures with black humorous stories about manic desire, stalling strategies ("God Wants Us To Wait"), brutal fantasies of revenge and other heartfelt entanglements of adult metropolitan neurotics. The songs must not last longer than two and a half minutes. So great catchy tunes like "Andrew In Drag" - all too quickly - are passing by.
Top track: Andrew In Drag