Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  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
    80
    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
    80
    It's not so far from under The Shadow, but that doesn't hinder this album a bit.
  5. Mar 21, 2012
    80
    This is Merritt in designer mood, playing with layers and music. The joy is found in watching it take shape.
  6. Mar 6, 2012
    80
    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
    80
    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
    80
    The lyrics are as sharp and malevolent as they've been in ages.
  9. Feb 29, 2012
    80
    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
    78
    Their liberal word-cram of mixed meter and sea-shanty pentameter is on full display on instant jaunty novelties.
  11. Mar 5, 2012
    74
    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
    70
    Purposefully ridiculous but brilliant.
  13. Mar 9, 2012
    70
    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
    70
    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
    70
    15 synth-pop exercises, all 2:39 or under, savoring love in all its twisted flavors.
  16. Mar 2, 2012
    70
    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
    67
    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. Mar 16, 2012
    65
    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
    65
    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
    63
    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
    61
    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. Mar 22, 2012
    60
    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. Mar 14, 2012
    60
    It's lacking some of his scabrous wit, but this is Merritt's most enjoyable album for years. [April 2012, p.101]
  27. Mar 14, 2012
    60
    Too many tracks are still founded on tiresome conceits. [Apr 2012, p.81]
  28. Mar 9, 2012
    60
    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
    60
    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
    60
    For such a self-avowed perfectionist, and judged against the admittedly high standards of his magnum opus, it comes up a little short.
  32. Mar 5, 2012
    60
    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.
  33. 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.
  34. 60
    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
    60
    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
    60
    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
    60
    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
    53
    Stephin Merritt, once capable of such subtlety, such beauty in his cynicism, has produced a record that's surprisingly shallow.
  40. Mar 5, 2012
    40
    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
    20
    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
4.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. Mar 31, 2012
    3
    "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 »
  2. Mar 18, 2012
    8
    Great 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 »
  3. Mar 9, 2012
    10
    This is the first Magnetic Fields record I played and it made me download their entire discography. It's absolutely amazing, cute songs with catchy beats and Derek's great voice. Full Review »