The Magnetic Fields (named after the André Breton novel, Les Champs Magnétiques) is an American indie pop group founded and led by Stephin Merritt. He is the group's primary songwriter, producer and vocalist, as well as frequent multi-instrumentalist. The Magnetic Fields is essentially a vehicle for Merritt's songwriting, along with various side-projects, such as The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes and The Gothic Archies. While the particular musical style of the band is usually as malleable as Merritt's songwriting, they are commonly attributed to pop genres and subgenres: synthpop, indie pop, and noise pop. The band is often also cited as being recognizable by Merrit's lyrics, often about love and often with irregular or neutral gender roles, that are by turns ironic, tongue-in-cheek, bitter, and humorous.
The band released their debut and best known single "100,000 Fireflies" in 1991, which was typical of the band's earlier career characterized by synthesized instrumentation by Merritt with lead vocals provided by Susan Anway (and then by Stephin Merrit himself from The Charm of the Highway Strip onwards). A more traditional band later materialized, currently composed of Merritt, Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, and John Woo, with occasional guest vocals by Shirley Simms. Their best-known work is the 1999 three-volume concept album 69 Love Songs. It was followed in the succeeding years by a "no-synth" trilogy: i (2004), Distortion (2008), and Realism (2010).