Obscurities - Stephin Merritt
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: The singer-songwriter from The Magnetic Fields releases a solo album of B-sides, compilation cuts, and various unreleased material.
  • Record Label: Merge
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Nine seven-inches etc. plus five previously unreleaseds including three remnants of an abandoned musical obviously add up to an intentional hodgepodge. Still, I wonder whether the intention was to backload.
  2. Aug 18, 2011
    While it wouldn't be fair to hold Obscurities up to Merritt's 1990s albums with The Magnetic Fields and others, the material here certainly makes a strong claim for achieving next-best-thing status, providing a welcome nostalgic reminder of the many pleasures offered by what has already more or less become a nostalgia act.
  3. 80
    Most telling is how glad he is to be free of concept-Obscurities contains songs from five(!) different projects, all of them rescued from any context but musical, which is all the overwhelmed guy who made five projects in the first place wants to focus on in his old age.
  4. Aug 22, 2011
    In the end, Obscurities scratches that itch that compilations of its kind are supposed to, helping you relive your fond memories of an artist that inspired devotion, while reassuring you that you didn't miss out on too much when you really, really cared.
  5. Sep 9, 2011
    For completists Obscurities is a must. For Magnetic Fields fans it's a worthwhile starting point for Stephin Merritt's other projects. For newcomers, start with 69 Love Songs and come back when you've fallen in love with everything else.
  6. Aug 19, 2011
    It's got some purely great pop songs on it, enough that in spots it rises out of that fan-only ghetto, even if other moments find it falling back in.
  7. Aug 19, 2011
    It only really comes alive with an alternate version of "Take Ecstasy With Me," which reminds us that original Magnetic Fields singer Susan Anway is still his definitive interpreter, the Ella to his Cole. [Sep 2011, p.91]

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Sep 15, 2011
    I discovered 69 Love Songs about 4 years ago, thanks to the film Tarnation, and have since been scouring the Magnetic Fields catalog as well as Merritt's side projects like The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, Gothic Archies, (Hell I even purchased Showtunes), etc. Not to take away anything from those albums but Obscurities transcends into the realm of 69 Love Songs and still feels fresh and new. I love this album. "When I'm not Looking, You're Not There" is flat out fantastic. A melody developed where every note is a different instrument. I could listen to an entire album of songs with that concept. As long as Merritt was behind them. Overall 8/10 even though I couldn't ask for a better collection of B-Sides...unless he's got another 69 Love Songs laying around... Expand