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The Future Bible Heroes 

I'm Lonely (And I Love It)
(Merge)

Over the past few years, Stephin Merritt has recorded under an impossible number of band appellations, including Magnetic Fields (his best known configuration), the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and the Future Bible Heroes -- none of which could be considered inferior or lackluster. The dichotomy between Merritt's last Magnetic Fields release and this latest entry from Future Bible Heroes is the physical distance between the sublime and the ridiculous. The Fields' 69 Love Songs was Merritt's magnum opus, a three-disc rumination on the state of love, featuring 23 songs on each disc. By contrast, the new Heroes' release, the five-song I'm Lonely (and I Love It) is barely a table scrap. But then, the Heroes, Merritt's quasi-techno facet, has traditionally offered little more than bits and pieces.

For a five-song EP, I'm Lonely (And I Love It) has a couple of meaty moments. Merritt's attempt to recreate Erasure is largely successful, especially on the sprightly title track and in the standard Merritt brilliance of "Good Thing I Don't Have Any Feelings." Claudia Gonson's vocal contribution to the haunting "Café Hong Kong" is the perfect counterpoint, coming directly in the middle of the track list, while "Blue Hawaii" is an interesting throwaway, and "Hopeless" is a remix from the Heroes' last full album. Stephin Merritt is clearly a songwriting prodigy, which makes even his less successful attempts better than most songwriters' A-material. As slight as I'm Lonely feels at first, Merritt's enormous talent ultimately shines through, even though it's only for a handful of tunes.

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