The Sixths - Wasps' Nest
It’s pretty well established that Stephin Merritt is a brilliant songwriter. His ability to merge sugary pop songs with dark and extremely smart, witty and deceptively simple lyrics is second to none. You can hear that talent across several Magnetic Fields records however many may be unaware that he was utilizing these talents for another project in the 90s: The 6ths. He began this project as a way to realize his songs sung and shaped by different singers and performers.
The 1995 debut, Wasps Nests (try saying that a few times...The 6ths Wasps Nests), was originally released in 1995 on the then reactivated London label and it features an incredible run of grade-A indie rock vocalists. Dean Wareham (Luna), Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo), Mark Robinson (Unrest), Lou Barlow (Sebadoh), Mary Timony, Robert Scott (The Bats), Mac McCaughan (Superchunk) and Chris Knox (Toy Love / Tall Dwarfs) all lend their talents to Merritt’s songs.
The results are absolutely first rate. Merritt’s melodies are in great hands on tracks like the catchy but depressing “Falling Out Of Love (With You)” with Dean Wareham. Barbara Manning beautifully leads off the set with the nostalgic and wistful “San Diego Zoo” and Mitch Easter lends his nasally rasp to the playful and fuzzy “Pillow Fight.” Every cut is a catchy winner and musically, the stripped down synth-pop and elementary instrumentation Merritt utilizes perfectly complements the vocalists. Georgia Hubley’s soft and muted vocals nicely rest on the buzzing synths and incessant acoustics on “Movies In My Head.” And Robert Scott’s lazy vocals nicely assist the heavy strumming and humming of the romantically barren and pessimistic “Heaven In A Black Leather Jacket.”
Great pick by Captured Tracks to put this forgotten record back in print. Originally released as a CD and a 45 box set only, this is the first time Wasps Nests is on LP. Truly excellent material and much-needed reissue in the Stephin Merritt canon. (Dom)
Check out a track here.