Mastermind Stephin Merritt has become a cult figure--and his lugubrious voice, his deadpan wit, and his sparkling arrangements make each of his bands' efforts distinctive and worthwhile. The lyrics are simple, literate, and evocative; the instrumentation lush and careful. Holiday is among Merritt's happier albums, but of course the requisite dark side lurks in every couplet. Sounds like practically nothing else except other Magnetic Fields, or Merritt's other projects: the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and the Future Bible Heroes. "The flowers she sent / and the flowers she said she sent / are all equally dead / you don't care any more, she said / and the books she read / and the books that she said she read / are all spread on the floor / you don't get out of bed any more."