Music Feeds’ Love Letter To A Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share stories about how the music they love has influenced their lives. Here, Melbourne indie pop duo J4 confess their love for The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs (1999)
J4 was born when housemates Bronte Maguire and Lewis Stephenson began writing songs together during one of Melbourne’s protracted Covid lockdowns. The pair’s taste for pop hooks and skewwhiff comedy references is represented on J4’s self-titled debut EP, which features the garage pop dance number ‘Fast Lane’ and the breezy, guitar-driven ‘Medicine’ .
J4’s love letter to The Magnetic Fields’ ’69 Love Songs’
Our band formed over a year and a half of lockdowns in Melbourne. One of the activities we used to do on the weekends was get drunk and paint out in the sun. We started a huge oasis mural-type painting and would work on it every Saturday or Sunday for six hours a day over the course of about a year.
During those times, we listened to a bunch of different music, everything we could consume. We used these painting sessions as catharsis, a family bonding session, a physical creative outlet, but also musical inspiration.
When the sun went down, we would start writing songs. One very fond day over many wines, with some mushrooms and a cheese board in our bellies, we listened to an incredible record: 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields. Two hours and 45 minutes of love songs, all in varying degrees of brilliance, some more finished than others. But after some mushrooms and wine, every song was the best song we’d ever heard.
We painted for hours that day, each song rolling through and making us laugh, cry or be silenced by beautiful melodies, sweet lyrics and wholesome harmonies. That night, after the sun went down and the paints were packed away, we wrote ‘Medicine’ and ‘Bubbles,’ both on our debut EP. Both songs have cascading harmonies, simple but effective choruses and an unexplainable innocence.
J4 – ‘Medicine’
We are hopeless romantics who don’t take ourselves too seriously, and love to have a laugh with each other at each other’s expense. The lyrics in our songs bring that cheeky joyfulness across, while telling a love story. We loved the same thing about 69 Love Songs, which is why it resonated so strongly with us.
Some of our favourite songs on the album are ‘I Don’t Want to Get Over You’, ‘The Book of Love’, ‘Sweet- Lovin’ Man’, ‘I Don’t Believe in the Sun’, ‘I Think I Need a New Heart’, ‘Punk Love’, ‘Time Enough for Rocking When We’re Old’, and ‘Washington, D.C.’ We love that some songs don’t seem to be finished properly, some are polished and others are very lo-fi.
We adopted that same attitude of, “Fuck it, let’s just get our songs out there with the attitude that came across on the demos.” In a lot of our songs we’ve used a lot of the original drunk vocals from those late nights in our living room. Sometimes you just can’t recapture the mood of the original demos, and trying to seems like a crime.
J4’s lockdown mural
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