Review Summary: Um, I thought we were meant to be like glue?
Stephen Merritt loves theatrics for their cheap concepts and their lousy execution, and that’s what his records would be on the surface if he wasn’t essentially insane and if he didn’t hate everything. 2004’s i
may come a belching four years after its predecessor of gay bars and theatre, 69 Love Songs
, but Merritt is still having trouble dusting stage shows off of his suit. First off, it’s still got simplistic designs on itself: every track begins with an “I”, although even here Merritt is careless and acting with strands of irony (he can’t really be bothered to keep it going past track seven and resorts to Ifs and Ins and I’ms). He only restricts himself with such indulgence to take society down with him and gift his listeners the now-typical social commentary that plagued him five years ago. On i
he takes to simplicity and child-like awe, with the twinkling sounds of a jack-in-the-box on “I Was Born” or the thwacking of an xylophone on “Infinitely Late at Night”.
When it hasn’t just dawned on him that things have sounds, however, the music is melodramatic and ridiculous, such as the ultra-pop hit “I Thought You Were My Boyfriend” where he runs the gamut of love, if it were romanticised to death: the piano begins a moody show tune, and through the lyrics he idealises everything one possibly could about a relationship: “I thought I was just the guy for you and it would never end/I thought we were meant to be like glue I thought you were my boyfriend/I thought you were my boyfriend
”. And the best bit of it all is that no matter how saccharine Merritt’s band get, and no matter how much sugar he pours into baroque pop jams such as “In an Operetta”, his voice remains monotonous and hateful. If you’re looking for music to apply the word “antithesis” to, look no further than Merritt’s no-synth trilogy and its humble beginnings on i
– I’ve never heard someone less excited to play a banjo.