I’ve never pegged Stephin Merritt to be the firearm-toting type, so maybe the following analogy works only if one imagines the Magnetic Fields’ frontman brandishing party balloons twisted into the shape of a handgun. Because Distortion, for all its prickly, white-noise goodness, sounds like Merritt kidnapped a gaggle of Brill Building songwriters at gunpoint, got them fluthered on Wild Irish Rose at a piano bar, and then barked out creative orders. Ditties like “Too Drunk to Dream” are chock-full of romantic/nostalgic staggering: “I gotta get too drunk to dream/ Because I only dream of you.” “Drive On, Driver” mimics the Jesus and Mary Chain, burying a nifty melody, all Phil Spector-like, beneath the steel-wool distortion. And “Three-Way” is girl-group infectious in how elated shouts of the song’s sex-driven title are a fickle dance between sassy subtle and billboard blatant. In a six-month stretch that’s witnessed girl-group reissues, Court TV-fueled re-examinations of Spector’s genius and wife Ronnie simply exclaiming “1965!” during song introductions at gigs, Distortion is a welcome slice of Merritt-fitted retro pop.