Love at the Bottom of the Sea

  • Record Label: Merge
  • Release Date: Mar 6, 2012

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
Buy On
  1. These 15 song-puzzles in 34:20 are sophisticated amusements all, although often the amusement is attenuated and one I get bored with before half its 2:38 is over.
  2. The record is 15 short vignettes about lost, unattainable, suboptimal, or just plain impossible love, and The Fields nail each and every one.
  3. Mar 26, 2012
    The efficiency of his drollness has grown uncanny, in fact, and the creepiness of its perfection is part of the fun.
  4. Mar 22, 2012
    It's not so far from under The Shadow, but that doesn't hinder this album a bit.
  5. Mar 21, 2012
    This is Merritt in designer mood, playing with layers and music. The joy is found in watching it take shape.
  6. Mar 6, 2012
    If there's any particular conceit here, it's Merritt at his wry best, sharpening his pop hooks and keeping songs tightly wound.
  7. Mar 5, 2012
    This is pop music at its wittiest and most concise, yet for all its maturity and refinement, it's hard to believe that an album so youthful could be made by a group of forty-somethings.
  8. Mar 5, 2012
    The lyrics are as sharp and malevolent as they've been in ages.
  9. Feb 29, 2012
    It's not easy to inject humour into songwriting but Merritt does it seamlessly, peppering sweetly sung melodies with just the right amount of acerbic lines--the cynical and the sentimental balanced beautifully.
  10. Mar 15, 2012
    Their liberal word-cram of mixed meter and sea-shanty pentameter is on full display on instant jaunty novelties.
  11. Mar 5, 2012
    Love at the Bottom of the Sea is an endearing, comfortable offering from a band that will hopefully do 10 more albums.
  12. May 4, 2012
    Purposefully ridiculous but brilliant.
  13. Mar 9, 2012
    Merritt's merry band has returned to what it does best, capturing snapshots of love from unexpected perspectives in unforeseen ways.
  14. Mar 8, 2012
    It's true that Love at the Bottom of the Sea does oscillate sharply in terms of quality, though the stature of its finer moments comfortably overshadow the lesser offspring.
  15. Mar 6, 2012
    15 synth-pop exercises, all 2:39 or under, savoring love in all its twisted flavors.
  16. Mar 2, 2012
    The tenth Magnetic Fields album sees Stephin Merrit returning to both form and familiar territory.
  17. 70
    It is another collection of charming, infectious pop songs--a solid addition to the band's expansive catalog, and maybe that's the best we can hope for.
  18. Mar 6, 2012
    Love At The Bottom Of The Sea is a fun and uncompromising record, but very little of it sticks in the head or the heart.
  19. Magnet
    Mar 16, 2012
    It merits a mild sigh, but no great surprise, that ... [here is] the Magnetic Fields' first out-and-out novelty record. Fortunately, there are some decent jokes. [No. 85, p.54]
  20. Mar 12, 2012
    Formulas churn out reliable, consistent results, but "reliable and consistent" art doesn't always inspire a passionate response.
  21. 63
    The 15-track set reclaims the willfully dinky synth-pop sound the Magnetic Fields renounced in recent years in favor of fuzzed-out guitar rock and strummy chamber folk.
  22. Feb 29, 2012
    The disc largely lacks the memorable song- writing Merritt is known for, and that deficit is only compounded by the misguided production.
  23. Mar 8, 2012
    After these frontloaded highlights [Andrew in Drag, God Wants Us to Wait], it doesn't take long for Love at the Bottom of the Sea to become a rain-boot-worthy slog through water-logged mid-tempo material.
  24. Mojo
    Mar 22, 2012
    Only a slight dearth of killer melodies ... disappoints. [Apr 2012, p.86]
  25. 60
    It's hard not to listen to this album and to think that they've mined this territory already in 69 Love Songs.
  26. Q Magazine
    Mar 14, 2012
    It's lacking some of his scabrous wit, but this is Merritt's most enjoyable album for years. [April 2012, p.101]
  27. Uncut
    Mar 14, 2012
    Too many tracks are still founded on tiresome conceits. [Apr 2012, p.81]
  28. Mar 9, 2012
    The album's highlights are many, further proving that Stephin Merritt is one of the finest songwriters alive. He simply needed an editor this time around.
  29. 60
    In flirting with frivolity en route to the sublime, the Magnetic Fields too often sound frivolous.
  30. Mar 6, 2012
    Overproduction and a general (and oddly generic) sense of overarching silliness keeps the 15-track set from achieving the lovely balance of dirty wit and sincere heartache that made albums like Wayward Bus and Charm of the Highway Strip so immediate and life affirming.
  31. Mar 5, 2012
    There's still a feeling of something missing here, and while the material is much stronger than on the band's most recent releases, there's also a sense that these are the first 15 songs Merritt wrote for the project and not the best of a larger selection.
  32. High on saccharine and low on fidelity, LATBOTS has one foot in the recent 8-bit scene, the other in Merritt's own back catalogue.
  33. Mar 5, 2012
    For such a self-avowed perfectionist, and judged against the admittedly high standards of his magnum opus, it comes up a little short.
  34. Alternative Press
    Mar 2, 2012
    The 15 songs here chart a typical course through the American songbook, with paradoxically straight-faced camp, morose show tunes and orchestral chamber pop without the aid of an actual orchestra. [Apr 2012, p.96]
  35. 60
    Love at the Bottom of the Sea marks a return to The Magnetic Fields' abrasive electropop, which isn't always to the songs' advantage.
  36. Mar 1, 2012
    The exact same things that made 69 Love Songs such a tour de force--smart namechecks, hyperactive genre-surfing, a DIY feel to the production (he's back on the synths)--are the very same things that can start to grate here.
  37. Mar 1, 2012
    It's enjoyable enough, but the potency of Merritt's wit is gradually sapped by one wheezy, sluggish melody too many.
  38. Feb 29, 2012
    Love At The Bottom Of The Sea certainly has its moments, but Merritt albums now feel like inessential appendices to a great catalogue, rather than fundamental further developments.
  39. Mar 19, 2012
    Stephin Merritt, once capable of such subtlety, such beauty in his cynicism, has produced a record that's surprisingly shallow.
  40. Mar 5, 2012
    Sly winks at a complicit listener are replaced by a troubling disregard for the audience, and The Magnetic Fields sink to the bottom of the sea of self-satisfaction.
  41. Mar 15, 2012
    I hate to say it, but Love at the Bottom of the Sea is such a drag: a damp and dreary album, drowning in bad faith and bad jokes.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Dec 11, 2014
    "Love at the bottom of the sea" sticks to the Magnetic Fields formula of quirky pop - nice but relatively unremarkable melodies accompanied by"Love at the bottom of the sea" sticks to the Magnetic Fields formula of quirky pop - nice but relatively unremarkable melodies accompanied by often clever, always weird lyrics. Opening track "God Wants Us To Wait" is one of the bands better tracks in recent times however the rest of the record treads water, keeping at an above average mark. In typical MF style, the songs are kept short, sweet and to the point which gives them an appeal and allows even the weirdest tracks to remain listenable. Fans will enjoy - newcomers would be better advised to check out 69 love songs. Full Review »
  2. Mar 31, 2012
    "The Machine in Your Hand" is one of the few compositions on the 15-track album of The Magnetic Fields - "Love At The Bottom Of The Sea","The Machine in Your Hand" is one of the few compositions on the 15-track album of The Magnetic Fields - "Love At The Bottom Of The Sea", which presents a fairly bearable level. The entire release is just boring - synth pop genre give you a huge range of possibilities, but band seems to forget this and they're exerting childish vocals to the not very diversified base. Full Review »
  3. Mar 18, 2012
    Great record. Laughed and cried at the same time. Lyrics are hilarious and instantly stuck in your mind. "Andrew in drag'' may be my personalGreat record. Laughed and cried at the same time. Lyrics are hilarious and instantly stuck in your mind. "Andrew in drag'' may be my personal single of the year... Pure fun. God, i wanna dance... Full Review »