"Grandiose" is the word that Stephin Merritt uses to describe this album, and he doesn't seem to be the type who's prone to overstatement. After all, his three-CD collection of 69 love songs has the rather under-elaborate title 69 Love Songs. Still, where he lacks creativity in titling an album, he more than makes up for it as a lyricist. Whereas most of his contemporaries would be lucky to write this many songs in their entire career, Merritt--as the creative force behind the Magnetic Fields--effortlessly proves himself as one of the pre-eminent songwriters of his generation. He is also an incurable romantic; his love songs are interspersed with melancholy, bitterness, hope, sadness, joy, longing--all the emotions that seem to coexist with love. The tunes themselves are a mixture of styles, ranging from sunny pop to simple ballads to faux-Broadway showtunes, while also taking in country (Disc Three's "I'm Sorry I Love You"), toy pop (Disc One's "Absolutely Cuckoo") and synthesized Euro-pop (Disc Two's "Long-Forgotten Fairytale"). The scale of 69 Love Songs is absolutely staggering, and not just because of its sheer size and scope. Stephin Merritt and his Magnetic Fields have crafted one of pop music's most beautiful and inspiring tributes to love.