Hyacinths and Thistles Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt returns with a second disc under The 6ths nameplate (following 1995's Wasps' Nests). Like its predecessor, this album features original Merritt compositions sung by guest vocalists, including Gary Numan, Sarah Cracknell, Marc Almond, Bob Mould, and Sally Timms.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. These music box songs never overstay their welcome.
  2. The first album from The Sixths was a dirge-like affair, but the new one's delightful.... The maturity of Merritt's songwriting lends emphasis to the singers' voices and interpretive powers; more often than not, they avail themselves capably.
  3. 80
    With only the occasional flawed moment and the cast list up a definite notch or two from previous 6ths album 'Wasp's Nest,' this is a delicate jewel. (Oct 2000, p.104)
  4. 70
    Hyacinths and Thistles takes a grab-bag approach to whisper-soft pop, though, at times, the lullaby vibe dangerously teeters between being appealingly fey and overly precious.
  5. Stephin Merritt's the 6th's second album isn't nearly as dynamic as his Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, nor is it quite as good as the first 6th's album, Wasps' Nests. It is, however, another crowning achievement for Merritt.
  6. While memorable tunes abound, and at least one left-fielder scores (Sixties folk-pop singer Melanie returns, singing like Tom Waits channeling Lotte Lenya), the 6ths largely seem inclined to preach to the converted.
  7. [Merritt] leaves vocal duties entirely to his guests here, an impressive group that includes new-wave forebear Gary Numan and '70s warbler Melanie alongside an all-star collection of indie-rock fixtures. Unfortunately, he's given them some of his weakest material to date, delicate but forgettable songs that often sound like discarded leftovers from 69 Love Songs.

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. TimT.
    Oct 20, 2001
    Hard to fault the songs--the finest, most-sustained collection of Merritt's work. The only shortcoming I can see is the writing style forces the singer to adopt Merritt's own vocal delivery. To be honest this is so minor a criticism as to be almost pointless Hyacinths & Thistles is what they are listening to in heaven Expand

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