Critical Backlash: Says WTF?

Courtney <3

First the good news. Valentine’s Day was awesome, but more importantly, the illustrious Hank May (remember him?) was blogged about here by Music (For Robots)! Hopefully our beloved Okkervil River Kid is moving on to the big leagues, but you can still say you knew him when at his MySpace.

It’s ok to have an agenda. Pitchfork’s seems pretty obvious at this point – take bands nobody’s ever heard of, preferably in genres that don’t include guitars, and over-inflate the shit out of their ratings in order to boost their own recognition when the bands get huge.

You’ll notice how they jumped off the hype train with Wolf Parade and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah just in time for the year-end list — wouldn’t want to be like the dozens of other lists (CMG’s included, natch) putting them in the top 10! That would be too predictable after giving them both 9+ ratings! Art Brut, on the other hand, released a cute little album with two very catchy songs and a few good jokes – it’s certainly an enjoyable record, but nothing any more subversive than Architecture In Helsinki’s In Case We Die and certainly less memorable. Bada bing bada boom, #3 album of the year!

They’ve continually slighted deserving artists – Akron/Family, Chad Vangaalen, and New Buffalo all got middling reviews (the New Buff one in particular is just embarrassingly poor) after those artists received stellar ones from the Glow and elsewhere. Can’t be late to the party, after all.

Anyway, enough senseless bashing. I read the review and listened to The Knife album. It’s fucking awful. It sounds like me and my girlfriend dicking around for a weekend with Fruity Loops. It’s all synthesized instruments, boring beats, and horrendous, unlistenable vocals. There’s more creativity in the first minute of the Imogen Heap song they used on The O.C. than this entire album.

So what gives, guys? Is this a joke? I didn’t think Love Is All was an 8+ album either, but at least that was listenable. Decide for yourself:

The Knife – “Silent Shout”: mp3
The Knife – “Neverland”: mp3

The real question here is this: Who is the Fork trying to fool, their readers or themselves?

(Aside: Pitchfork is a collection of individuals, with individual opinions and subjectivities, so I may be totally wrong. That said, they have editors, and an unintentional trend is still a trend.)

(Aside #2: I only bash Pitchfork because it’s an easy target. I don’t read Stylus or TinyMixTapes or any of the smaller webzines because most of the time I don’t agree with their opinions or their writing – or both.)

EDIT: The comments so far have said “stop reading Pitchfork” or “Check out their early stuff.” Pitchfork is a standard-bearer, guys – me not reading it isn’t going to stop them for being wrong for the other thousands of people who read the site, and I’d rather give those people a fighting chance to not blow $15 on a shitty record. I don’t like what our president is doing in Iraq either, should I ignore that too? Of course not. And I sat down and listened to the “aesthetic,” so I don’t need to get into it – it needs to stop being awful. Explain to me why you think “Silent Shout” is a good song, and then we’ll talk.

Speak of the devil: I just watched last week’s The O.C. and was pleasantly surprised to hear Seven Swans-era Sufjan, Rocky Votolato and Sun Kil Moon. Marissa seriously needs to get her shit together, though.