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Rhythm & Views

Future Bible Heroes

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STEPHIN MERRITT MAY have been the most prolific songwriter of the '90s. A new album or single appeared from one of his four different aliases every few months, or at least that's how it seemed. Last year, Merritt bid farewell to the decade with the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, which was originally to have been 100 Love Songs. Considering his track record, it's only marginally surprising that he's presented us with a new EP, I'm Lonely (And I Love It), only 10 months later.

Future Bible Heroes' shtick (for every Merritt project has a shtick) is to produce songs written by Merritt and orchestrated by Chris Ewen, formerly of '80s band Figures On A Beach. Ewen ensures that each song is more bouncy and thumpy with synthesizer goodness than Yazoo's "Situation." Merritt's melodies, as always, are simple and unashamed of their intense catchiness, while his lyrics continue to be some of the very few in pop music that would sound intelligent if you read them aloud.

"There's no use even trying, because it's hopeless / All of our dreams are dying of overdoses," a traditionally elegant Merritt couplet from "Hopeless" on the Future Bible Heroes' first album, sounds even better on the danceclub-style remix included on this EP. The four new songs, however, are spottier than usual.

"Good Thing I Don't Have Any Feelings" has a wonderful syncopated chorus, while the title track combines the exuberant tempo of "Hopeless" with an equally exuberant worldview: "I'm as lonely as Narcissus gazing in his mirrored pond / Wearing all the clothes you hate and going back to blond."

But "My Blue Hawaii" and "Cafe Hong Kong" aren't quite as good--the former's too cluttered with electronic noise, while the latter is too plodding and preciously morose.

Merritt die-hards will snap up anything by him, but you'd be better advised to try the Future Bible Heroes' full-length from 1997 than this brief offering.

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