The Magnetic Fields (named after the André Breton novel, Les Champs Magnétiques) is the principal creative outlet of singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt. 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, noise pop, and, most recently, folk-pop.
Earlier in the band's career, The Magnetic Fields were characterized by synthesized instrumentation by Merritt with lead vocals provided by Susan Anway (and then by Stephin Merrit himself). A more traditional band later materialized, currently composed of Merritt, Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, and John Woo, with occasional guest vocals by Shirley Simms. The band is recognizable for Merrit's lyrics, often about love, that are by turns ironic, bitter, and humorous. 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).
Singer-songwriter Martin Phillipps formed The Chills in 1980 with his sister Rachel Phillipps and Jane Dodd on bass after the demise of his punk band, The Same. Phillipps' earlier band, the Same, formed in 1978 and performed alongside punk bands Toy Love and The Enemy. The Same also included Craig Easton, Paul Baird, Jeffrey Batts, Gaynor Propsting among others.
The Chills went on to go through over 20 different line-up changes with Martin Phillipps as the only constant member. Members of the band over the years have included Peter Gutteridge, Alan Haig, Fraser Batts, Terry Moore, Martyn Bull, Peter Allison, David Kilgour, Steven Schayer, Martin Kean, Justin Harwood, Caroline Easther, Jillian Dempster among others. Several of these musicians went on to further success in bands ranging from The Verlaines to Luna.