Opaque Spring Green Vinyl
The House of Tomorrow EP celebrates 30 years in 2022. The House of Tomorrow EP marks the first release introducing vocals by Stephin Merritt and this reissue comes with a bonus track Alien Being.
Cast your mind back to notable landmarks of 1992. Outside the Twin Cities, Mall of America opened to the public. Frank Gehry’s enormous golden fish sculpture, El Peix, welcomed Barcelona Olympians. And The House of Tomorrow, a four-song 7” on a small indie label, ushered in a new era for The Magnetic Fields. When Susan Anway, who sang on early albums Distant Plastic Trees and The Wayward Bus, left the group, Stephin Merritt stepped up to the microphone. “This was my first time singing on record,” he recalls. He sought to sound simple, subtle, and unobtrusive, à la the Japanese concept of shibusa. “But now, listening back, I hear a little too much vocal influence from the Jesus and Mary Chain. (I really should move to Scotland. I belong there.)”
Likewise, the arrangements and production of The House of Tomorrow felt less polished overall than on its predecessors, even as the band’s sound was evolving. “I wanted to have rock instrumentation, plus cello (so ELO without keyboards), but everyone was tracked separately so there was no question of sounding like we were playing together,” explains Stephin. Instead, he chose to highlight the artifice. Voilà! “The drums are like Tusk only more so, the cello sounds like a synth, and the guitars might as well be programmed.” The House of Tomorrow rose in stature upon re-release on compact disc in 1996, with a new addition, “Alien Being” (previously relegated to the flip of the “Long Vermont Roads” single), boosting its modest track list from four songs to five. The limits of technology had stymied plans the first time: “You can’t fit five two-and-a-half–minute songs on a 7” record, even at 33rpm.”
Never before released as a 12”, this 30th anniversary remastered edition of The House of Tomorrow is available on opaque spring green vinyl (as well as basic black). But don’t press Stephin to discuss the colour’s charms, please. “I had a sickly pea green bathroom in my East Village tenement, and I never got over it,” he reveals. “It’s okay on plants, but everywhere else, the browner it is, the less I hate it. My favorite shade of green is brown.”