Before Stephen Merritt completed his epic 69 Love Songs, he had not only released several albums as Magnetic Fields, but also put together albums under the guise of The 6ths and Future Bible Heroes. As FBH, much of his same songwriting style is intact, but he gives up the singing duties much more often to Claudia Gonson. Not only that, but Memories Of Love has a bit more of a polished sound to it, feeling like a release somewhere between what you would expect from the Magnetic Fields, but also has a production quality and more rich sound that recalls and album like the High Llamas Cold And Bouncy. Old synths bubble and pop and add yet another layer to the already quite light sounding mix.
The disc starts off with the rather lush sounding "Lonely Days." After a bit of keyboard plinking, a full backup of synth strings and chorus comes into play and a bit of timpani-sounding drums almost adds a rhythm to the piece. Gonson takes vocal duties on the track and with all the fluttering noises and light vocals, the track almost sounds like a bit off-kilter Stereolab. "She Devils Of The Deep" takes a little more shy route with some mysterious sounding chimes and little horn bursts, as well as Merritts Leonard Cohen-esque sounding baritone vocals. The track still has plenty of strange little analog blips and bloops, though, and doesn't ever really get too serious sounding. After the more straight-up sounding pop song "Hopeless," and the super cheesy sounding (including a rather funny chorus) "Death Opened A Boutique," the album moves into the quietest (and probably most pretty) song on the album, "You Pretend To Be The Moon." The funny little noises of tracks past are toned down completely in favor of light washes of noise and a bit of simple drum machine to move things along. Gonson again takes the vocals and her soft intonation makes the track a very nice midway point on the release.
If the last track was as sad as the album gets, "Blond Adonis" is perhaps the bubbly highlight. With all kinds of swirling keyboards and happy little melodies bouncing off one another, Merritts higher vocals sound like they could have been based on the main character of Mark Leyners book Et Tu, Babe? Tracks change up ever so slightly, including kind of a Renaissance sound (with a harpsichord and stringed instruments) on "A You You Never Knew" while "Memories Of Love" has jungle sounds and bongos to spice things up.
Overall, it's another good album for Merritt, as well as the other two artists involved. As mentioned above, you'll probably enjoy it if you like his work as Magnetic Fields, and you'll probably find some major similarities between this release and those of the High Llamas. Lots of bouncy keyboards and catchy melodies without much to speak of in terms of drumming. The lyrics are a little less witty (although still have some memorable lines) as a straight-up Magnetic Fields release, but that's probably why there's a different name for this group. Take the best elements of early 80's synth pop music and adapt it to the 90s, and that's pretty much what you get here.