The (at least) 13 of you who don't know who the Magnetic Fields are obviously have a large, Stephin-shaped hole in your heart.
The Magnetic Fields is the main vehicle for the songwriting skillz of one Stephin Merritt, perhaps the best American songwriter of this century after Cole Porter. That is not hyperbole. I will also accept the argument that he's better than Cole Porter, if you are inclined to posit that.
Stephin's songs are clever, romantic, heartbreaking, meaningful, etc. Listeners are often moved or profoundly effected by these songs. Think about a teenage girl in the eighties hearing The Smiths for the first time, but multiply the effect, and imagine that the Smiths never made that sucky "Strangeways, Here We Come" album that (arguably) negates prior claims of genius.
It's not hard to fall in love with Stephin Merritt after hearing his masterwork, 69 Love songs, a 3 CD set of 69 songs exploring aspects of love AND aspects of the pop vehicle known as "the love song". All the songs are pretty much perfect. Stephin's website has some excerpts of much-deserved critical praise for 69 Love Songs .
Just about the only negative responses to 69 Love Songs (if such a thing is possible) would come from a wit-challenged Philistine, someone with no sense of tragedy and/or romance, or a testosterone-inflamed straight man afraid that appreciating the genius of the Mag Fields will make him into a screaming faggot. I have yet to play it for anyone who didn't "get it" on some level, though I must admit women tend to fixate on the Mag Fields more than men do (This is why I was so pleased when JS not only allowed, but seemed enthusiastic about, playing all three CDs in a row during our road trip.).
If you are so inclined, you could check out this Everything2 node which briefly reviews the set and transcribes the lyrics to each song. But what you should really do is find some mp3 action. Or ask any 20-38 year old romantic yet cynical hipster or ex-hipster female you know- chances are good she has a copy. 579 people list the Magnetic Fields as an interest in LJ, so someone you know has a copy.
In conclusion, Stephin Merritt would be my Future Husband if he weren't gay and I hadn't already bestowed that title on Cory McAbee (of the Billy Nayer Show, who you have a good excuse for saying "who the hell are they" because they're fairly obscure compared to the Fields). Any man I adore even -half- as much as I adore the music of Stephin Merritt would probably make the -actual- "Future Husband" list, if such a list included realistic prospects (rather than being limited to men I respect, idolize, or otherwise have unrequited feelings for).