Stephin Merrit (the primary lyricist of the on again/off again Magnetic Fields) is essentially a master of microfictions, so it’s no surprise that the band’s new album, Quickies, is inspired by the stories of Lydia Davis (who is, in fact, the one true master of microfiction). At least that’s according to this Pitchfork review (7.3! What does that really mean!), which also cites Scrabble and Jarvis Cocker as influences. Happily, to me, this sounds like any other Magnetic Fields album: smart, dark, funny, catchy, brief. It also features a song called “Favorite Bar,” which is now a bittersweet vignette of pre-pandemic life:
Do you have a favorite bar?
We can play pool with strangers
Maybe wear some lipstick and not be in danger
Of getting beat up in the men’s room.
Side note: both Davis and Merritt live in the Hudson Valley and may well know each other.
Side side note: one time on Christmas Eve I found myself at a bar beside Merrit helping him defend the honor of the legendary Bobby Short (Merrit was withering to our interlocutor, who had no idea what he was getting in to). Consequently, every time Merrit releases a new record I check to see if this Xmas episode has been immortalized in song. Reader, it has not.