Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quote of the day

"I saw Adem the other day. From what I'd been told he was Michael Chapman meets Patrik Fitzgerald. He turned out to be more Johnny Ball meets Paul McKenna. I might not have felt so deflated if I'd not been expecting a minor fucked-folk genius. Millions of words had told me Bloc Party were The Clash and The Cure, whereas they were The Lurkers and Busted."

Paul Morley writing in Observer Music Monthly about the tendency of reviewers to slaver over and lavish excessive praise on each and every new thing almost indiscriminately.

Naturally enough, it's us bloggers who are on the receiving end of the brunt of Morley's criticism: "It must be because there is so much blog-illuminated new music of such definite competence, so many attractive new fusions, hybrids and agile, academic rewirings, and so many enthusiasts writing about this new music, needing to demonstrate that they are the first to find it, and make a claim for its magnificent, idiosyncratic freshness. Now that everything is scored, and the results collated on websites as if this is helpful, as if this is sport, and there are so many competitive, boastful sound-spotters desperate for us to know exactly what they think as soon as they think it, there is, to put it mildly, a tendency for albums to be over-rated".

Thankfully, he does at least also have the good grace to acknowledge that "proud, pedantic newspaper rock critics" like himself can be just as guilty of churning out puffed-up hyperbole that bears little resemblance to the music itself.

Somewhere, not so long ago, I touched on this issue, but unfortunately can't find the relevant post to link to. Anyway, to recap, I have an irritating tendency to want to post reviews of - or at least reactions to - albums too hastily, which means that I am often either too effusive in my praise or too lukewarm in my appreciation of a record which may well prove to be a significant grower. Unlike gigs, theatrical performances and exhibitions, you can take records home physically and live with them for a while - they don't demand or deserve an "in-the-moment" response.

Morley's solution is to propose that the critic undergoes a cooling-off period. All fine and well, yes - but it's judging the timescale that I find most difficult. Even after thinking I was ready to offer some considered thoughts on Mogwai's Mr Beast last year, for instance, I still came to regard my review as unduly harsh. It's a puzzler alright...

So, how many times have you bought an album, listened to it and prematurely dismissed it - before gradually succumbing to its charms until you find yourself evangelising about it to anyone who'll listen, and plenty who won't?

(Thanks to Pete for the link. Most recently he's been left disappointed by the new Explosions In The Sky album All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone - can't say the same myself, even if it probably doesn't quite match up to the majestic The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place.)


Blogger Damo said...

This is off topic but... I can't get into Hotmail at the minute and I can't remember your e-mail address. Making it impossible for me to send you my 'In The Dock' contribution for the week. Can you mail me at my Gmail address? Replace the underscore with a dot and 'gmail' with 'hotmail' and you're there.

(And feel free to delete this afterwards)

6:04 pm  
Blogger swisslet said...

I haven't read the article in question, but it smacks to me of the professional hack resentful of these amateurs wielding power. Journalists aren't the only people to make or break bands any more. Professional journos write as much shit as your average blogger, if not more.


7:08 pm  

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