January 31, 2002

Stephin Merritt – Eban and Charlie

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The first solo project from Stephin Merritt (of the Magnetic Fields and a billion other bands) is this brief but effective soundtrack. Comprised mostly of instrumental tracks, interspersed with a few lovely pop songs, the disc is just the sort of melancholy-but-whimsical outing you’d expect from the talented songwriter.

“Maria, Maria, Maria” and “Some Sunny Day” could be two of Merritt’s best songs yet, their simple guitar arrangements tinged with nostalgia and sorrow. “Poppyland” is more fun, a bouncy psychedelic pop song that wouldn’t seem out of place on a children’s album. The balance of the album is comprised of experimental ambient pieces that find Merritt messing around in the studio to create a creepy mood.

Given the 36-minute length, it’s no surprise that some ideas (like the delightfully fun “This Little Ukulele” and “Tiny Flying Player Pianos”) seem underdeveloped, and when this album ends you’ll likely be wishing it was much longer.

Archived article by Ed Howard