Today’s kind of a big day for us TV geeks. In honor of the premiere episode from Lost’s last season I present to you the Magnetic Fields’ solid new album, Realism. As I sit here and wonder how Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse will be able to tie together all their loose ends I can kind of relate. You see I just painted myself into a corner by trying to tie Lost together with the music styling of Stephen Merritt and company. Let me start with the obvious linkage that is the band’s name. Ask any Lostie (yes, this is what they liked to be called) about electromagnetic phenomenon and they’ll begin spouting off about the pockets of magnetic fields in the Dharma Stations, The Swan and The Orchid. The entire five seasons, starting with the crash of Oceanic 815, and up to this point has all been driven narratively by these magnetic fields. I could sit here all day and go chapter by chapter but the end result would just be bewildered looks and Charlotte-esque nose bleeds from frontal lobe overload.
Emotionally the series was driven by the love triangle between the steady hand of reason, Jack Shephard, the bad boy with a heart of gold, Sawyer, and the flip flopping freckled fox on the lam, Kate Austen. I’m sure you’re sitting there how does this possibly relate to the new Magnetic Fields album. It does. trust me. During the five seasons that ran romantic choices were made over and over again. People were scorned. Relationships began and ended. I forgot how many times Kate changed her mind romantically but it was the type of stuff that drives us guys nuts. She was (is) a regular John Kerry (dated political reference in honor of Lost’s time travel). She also seemed to get captured far too often for an “outlaw”. I was reminded of all of this as I watched the amazing 8:15 recap. After that I listened to the lead track on Realism and it sounded tailor made for Lost’s season 5 cliffhanger.
You Must Have Lost Your Mind
You think you can leave the past behind
You must be out of your mind
If you think you can simply press rewind
You must be out of your mind, son
You must be out of your mind
In season 5’s finale (spoiler alert) Jack Shephard, a man of science and reason saw a major character arc. After countless failures in decision making and failed relationships with Kate, Jack became a man of blind destiny, thanks to the prodding of a now dead Daniel Farraday. Jack finally had an answer to all of his problems, much to the chagrin of the constantly love torn Kate. Jack’s motivation was clear; Drop a hydrogen bomb down a shat and reboot his life. All of those past mistakes and failures would go away. Mind you there was no guarantee that these actions weren’t the actual cause of the incident in the original time line nor was there a promise that the passengers of Oceanic 815 would survive such a cataclysmic event but hat didn’t matter to him. The past was too painful. Blowing up the station and leaving the past behind was worth the risk. The promise of a new beginning was the perfect driving force for the doctor with a god complex.
You want to kindle that old flame
I don’t remember your real name
It must be something scandalous
Lurks in your shadows
As the screen went to white (instead of the standard fade to black) one had to wonder if it worked and if Dr Jack, with his memories wiped clean, would get his chance to rekindle a romance with Kate…even if they’d now be complete strangers…and she’d be in handcuffs. Did somebody say conjugals?
Tonight we’ll find out.
Beyond this track and my forced Lost analogy Realism is full of stripped down orchestral pop mixed with beautiful storytelling. Gone is the overdone distortion of their previous album aptly named “Distortion”. Instead Merritt returns to an unplugged folksy sound that is reminiscent of earlier records…especially when Claudia Gonson chimes in.
Highlights: “You Must Be Out of Your Mind,” “Always Already Gone,” “I Don’t Know What To Say,”