Ben Pratt

Modern Day Music Criticism Sucks

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All of this leads me to ponder; is this forcing great albums, such as Simple Math, to be  compromised, mislabelled and unfairly judged and criticised? Do rushed reviews mean great records are being labelled as, “more boring than that time I watched Yellow Submarine, and I wasn’t on acid like I was the first time, so I realised how completely pointless and shit it actually is” and why the worst thing since Nickleback’s latest album is being hailed on Pitchfork (not really) as, “the best thing since Nickleback’s last album”. Meanwhile, Simple Math is only sporting a 5.5 on the hipster bible (aka Pitchfork) – a score that I am sure took the editorial team 4 or 5 long hard days and endless hours of meetings to come up with.

Why’s this happening, ya’ say? Well in my opinion, those interested in all the latest music news – and just have to hear what NME thought of the 20 year re-issue of Nevermind – need to chill out and realise that it isn’t all that important if you read the review today, tomorrow or next month. If you are anything like me, you don’t like to be ripped off, especially when it comes to the record that’s going to sit on the shelf in-between Rumours and Rapture. If I am going to buy a record based on the review or opinion of some faceless critic, then is it too much to expect that the critic has in fact invested hours upon hours of his or her time to sit down and actually listen and feel the music?


What, just me? Surely I can’t be the only guy who appreciates some actual honesty and transparency from his writers and not just feel as though you are being told what you should like? Oh, you do too? I thought you might. Well, my friend, we are half the problem. Take a chill pill. Here, smoke some of this grass and relax. We need to give writers a chance to look into an album, feel the album, but most of all, experience the music before we demand a review be posted online within minutes of an album’s release. It’s one of the reasons I think print music press will never die; writers have a whole month (potentially, even longer depending on the publication) to dissect an album for no one else but the reader and the potential listener of the album, which readers will hang out and wait for. How much more personal can you get? [And they all wait till the final day to listen to it anyway – Cynical Former Print Ed]

So, what the fuck led me to this point? Well, unlike a lot of music writers (or critics, whatever you choose to call us), I have the advantage of time. I currently write for a number of publications, one being my own nationally-distributed magazine, and none of which demand me to provide up-to-the-minute reviews or thoughts of the latest album to drop. On more occasions than not, I have the advantage of hindsight (before my initial thoughts are published, I can keep making mental notes and an open mind), and give the music a real chance to try and make a lasting impact on me. To try an evoke some emotion or feeling (or no feeling or emotion). It’s not giving my first thought and opinion a second chance, it’s giving the music a first chance.

Let me use a personal example; Brand New is a band that I admire greatly, their take on music is something that has not been (and hopefully never will be) replicated by any other group or artist. They are constantly pushing the boundaries on their perception of what music should sound like and what it should be about, often leading them to tiptoe the tightrope between music and noise. But there is a fine line between insanity and brilliance, one Brand New walk confidently and consistently, never letting you know whether it is fact brilliance underneath it all, or just insanity.

You want my point to all of this? Patience, my man. You obviously still ain’t feeling the weed yet…

(continues overleaf)

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24 Responses to Modern Day Music Criticism Sucks

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