Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Stephin Merritt: Obscurities [Merge, 2011]
Nine seven-inches etc. plus five previously unreleaseds including three remnants of an abandoned musical obviously add up to an intentional hodgepodge. Still, I wonder whether the intention was to backload. I got dubious tracks four through eight, beginning with a faux Patsy Cline song that some find vrai and sounds like merde to me, only to be swept off my feet by Merritt thoughtfully intoning some little green men's "Song From Venus." Then there's the paranoid-robotic "When I'm Not Looking, You're Not There." It's just made for an arrangement that, according to Merritt, takes "random chord tones in random octaves, and hocket[s] them between dozens of instruments." A-