I first heard this album about eight years ago, and I have listened to it several times a month since. It just doesn't get old--the more I hear it, the more remarkable it is. Many people have commented on Merritt's eclectic instrumentation, which is indeed striking. But the really fantastic thing about his music is just how great he is at turning out a tune. The instrumentations are novel, but not novelties, and the tight melodies have the charm and stay-in-your-headness of folk tunes. Stephin Merritt is just so damned smart--and not in a look-at-me-I'm-so-deep or hipster way, but in the understated, constant, prolific manner that makes for lasting songwriting. His lyrics are also smart and moving, even when, as with the 69 Love Songs trio, he insists on claiming they're ironic or meta. He's a master at wry, pithy little lines that stick with you a lot more strongly than most of the abstract, self-congratulatory crap that passes for poetry these days.
I've listened to each Magnetic Fields album several times over--I'm completely addicted to them, in fact--and while there's not a bad one in the bunch, Charm of the Highway Strip does stand out as the most consistently fantastic and aesthetically unified project. Give this album a try. You won't regret it-none of the many people I've forced this on have.