Realism - Magnetic Fields
Realism Image
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

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  • Summary: Stephin Merritt's final album in his "no-synth trilogy" was largely inspired by 1960s-70s British folk.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. The delicate melodies--sung by Merritt and various innocents, including longtime collaborator Claudia Gonson--make all the psychic mayhem go down smoothly, barely leaving a trace of blood on the floor.
  2. After a decade of contrarian, even petulant repudiations of the music that made the Magnetic Fields famous, Realism is capitulation, contrition, and celebration at once. It’s back to basics in the best way.
  3. Realism strikes a compelling balance between cringing honesty and organic chemistry that comes through in its crystalline composition as well as its more rugged manifestations. Complete reinvention isn’t necessarily reached, but isn’t quite the ultimate goal either.
  4. The Magnetic Fields’ eighth album, provides yet another example of why Merritt belongs on the shortlist of America’s greatest songsmiths.
  5. Merritt’s songs are, as ever, as lugubrious yet playful as his voice.
  6. The experiment of the Fields' ninth record sometimes rewards, but too often struggles for urgency and warmth.
  7. Here there are few bright spots and barely any prevailing concept to blame that fact on, leaving Realism as a bad album with nothing but the band behind it to blame.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. AlR.
    Jan 26, 2010
    10
    As good as a Distortion follow-up can get. Merritt writes like no one.
  2. Dec 4, 2014
    7
    I fell in love with and still am in love with 69 Love Songs. I have waited for Magnetic Fields to produce something akin to this album everI fell in love with and still am in love with 69 Love Songs. I have waited for Magnetic Fields to produce something akin to this album ever since. "Realism" doesn't attempt to replicate their magnum opus - its a completely different animal and herein lies what is good and what is bad about the record. While the band should be applauded for trying out some new ideas, they also fail to show the imagination or produce the magic of past glories. "Always Already Gone" is a great track but outside of that we are treated to a collection of decent, above average but never brilliant tracks. Will The Magnetic Fields ever reproduce the form of their early career again? If we're honest, its pretty unlikely however there is still material coming for the keen fans to enjoy. Expand
  3. Aug 15, 2010
    6
    In light of everything else Merritt has ever made, this is forgettable. Neat idea, boring execution, nonexistent target demographic. TheIn light of everything else Merritt has ever made, this is forgettable. Neat idea, boring execution, nonexistent target demographic. The opening track is classic, but, in the context of the rest of the album, sounds like some lost 70th Love Song, failing to dovetail with the ensuing album's style. Expand