The Magnetic Fields (named after the André Breton/Philippe Soupault novel Les Champs Magnétiques) is an American band founded and led by Stephin Merritt. Merritt is the group's primary songwriter, producer, and vocalist, as well as frequent multi-instrumentalist. The Magnetic Fields is essentially a vehicle for Merritt's songwriting, as are various side-projects including The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, and The Gothic Archies. Merritt's recognizable lyrics are often about love and with irregular or neutral gender roles, and are by turns ironic, tongue-in-cheek, bitter, and humorous.
The band released their debut single "100,000 Fireflies" in 1991. The single was typical of the band's earlier career, characterized by synthesized instrumentation by Merritt, with lead vocals provided by Susan Anway (and then by Stephin Merritt himself from The House of Tomorrow (EP) onwards). A more traditional band later materialized; it is now composed of Merritt, Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, and John Woo, with occasional guest vocals by Shirley Simms. The band's best-known work is the 1999 three-volume concept album 69 Love Songs. It was followed in the succeeding years by a "no-synth" trilogy: i (2004), Distortion (2008), and Realism (2010). The band's most recent album, 50 Song Memoir, was released in March 2017.