Not even Morrissey could pull off a line like "I want you crawling back to me, down on your knees, like an appendectomy sans anesthesia" without a hint of irony; but that's the power of Stephin Merritt. So goes "You Must Be Out of Your Mind," the opening number from the Magnetic Fields' ninth album, Realism. That opening filigree holds the key to the album – a whimsical bunkmate to the grinding pop and shoegaze haze heard on '08s Distortion. The two albums are conceptually linked, but rather than stand as a companion, Realism is the flip side of Distortion's dreary boom and hiss. The countrified "We Are Having a Hootenanny," and glowing numbers "I Don't Know What to Say" and "The Dada Polka" unfold like '60s Brit-folk. Merritt's dark voice hovers over delicate female singers and orchestral pop led by a ukulele. Dry humor and drama are delivered so meticulously that it's hard to decide if you should laugh or be swept away by the grandeur of it all. 4 out of 5 stars.