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Old 11-24-2009, 12:37 PM   #31
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I find the Sea Change review to be quite frustrating, because I feel it gives the record way too much credit. So, yeah, definitely a fail.

Seriously, though, are lukewarm, fair reviews really that objectionable? Is slightly underrating a record (in one's opinion) a colossal misstep in pop-criticism? It's not like those ARE good records, or even great/terrible ones. They're just records, and nobody has to love or hate them; nor does anybody or anything have to be hated for loving, hating, or neithering either of them. In fact, when considered relative to the vast majority of music listeners, I think that those two Pitchfork reviews are probably quite representative of the general opinion--all right music, yeah (sometimes awesome, even), but nothing perfect. Such is life.

Not jumping down your throat, LM. Just saying. All told, I find the relative restraint and lack of idiocy in this thread to be uplifting and inspiring. The anti-Pitchfork argument is so often, "They (aka, a lone writer who generally hasn't written for the site in five years) hated this one record. They had the gall to give it a 6! Above average? Fuck that. Green Day is God. Pitchfork are a bunch of elitist assholes. I mean, what says elitism like a front-page U2-centric, multi-article feature, in 2009? I hope they all die. White people and the many black writers who've worked for Pitchfork aren't allowed to write about hip-hop/rap/whatever. Any site who gave a bad review to American Idiot is the scourge of humanity." I'm glad not to be seeing that. Shit drives me crazy.
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:43 PM   #32
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When I was a freshman in college, I was in a relationship with a girl that was as complicated as any I've ever been in. She was pretty good looking. Not smoking hot, but definitely enough to get you to turn your head. The complication came from two factors: 1) she could piss me off like no other human being I've ever met. It seemed as if every other opinion that came out of her mouth was designed specifically to piss me off. There were days when I could barely be around her. 2) she was fucking amazing in bed. Totally open. Total freak. I learned more about sex from her than anyone else I've been with.

That's exactly how I feel about pitchfork.
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:50 PM   #33
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:52 PM   #34
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Dalton. that's how i feel about you....especially the sex part you fucking whore.
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:53 PM   #35
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Two incidences of unnecessary smugness were when they gave (former Dismemberment Plan singer) Travis Morrison's solo album a 0.0, an album that one would find it hard to call great, but certainly has its pleasures and comes from a creative place. It just had the gall to not try and be a D-Plan knockoff.

Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Travis Morrison: Travistan

Another one was when they reviewed Steely Dan's Two Against Nature. Hey, if you don't like jazz-flavored pop/rock, then don't bother to review ANYTHING from that type of music. It's like they'd always hated THE DAN and just wanted an opportunity to take a potshot. Most of their readers could have cared less about that album, something they even acknowledge in the review. The whole thing is beyond condescending. At least have someone who can compare it to past albums and knows what they're talking about:

Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Steely Dan: Two Against Nature
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Old 11-24-2009, 12:58 PM   #36
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It's much better to use them to take a look at their "Best New Music" ratings than anything else, obviously.

And their ratings often are based on trivial things: the 4.2 for NLOTH was only because it wasn't Achtung Baby, and no one told them not to listen to Bono talk about his own work. If they'd listened to it on its own merits, there's no way it's worse than ATYCLB.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:01 PM   #37
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I think I like ATYCLB more then NLOTH. It's hard to say because ATYCLB has been part of my collection for much longer, but that's where I'm at right now.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:08 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by djerdap View Post
Their biggest problem is that they're so obviously biased. It's not just about the music they hear. The name of the artist and the background (whether it is the glorified indie scene or an artist on the verge of mainstream, or God forbid - a veteran band like U2) present a factor almost as important as the music itself. That arrogant elitism is one of the reasons why I cannot force myself to read any review from beginning to the end.
I understand this criticism, but, to be fair, the site has grappled with that issue before. I remember reading a Depeche Mode review, perhaps for Playing the Angel, claiming that a band of DM's stature must be assessed in relation to its past work, if only because the reviewer cannot step outside the memories of that work. So it is with U2 - No Line was disappointing to the reviewer because it did not stand up to earlier albums, which have all been reviewed quite favorably. I'm not defending this perspective, which is really just epistemological posturing, rather just suggesting that certain reviewers are aware of an ostensible bias towards established acts.

The music that Pitchfork recommends has impressed me, with only a few exceptions. I find myself reading the site more often than I would like to admit.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:10 PM   #39
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I think I like ATYCLB more then NLOTH. It's hard to say because ATYCLB has been part of my collection for much longer, but that's where I'm at right now.
Then you and Pitchfork just have shitty taste. DEAL WITH THAT.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:14 PM   #40
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Then you and Pitchfork just have shitty taste. DEAL WITH THAT.
I'm sure you just didn't GET ATYCLB. I've got a sophisticated pallet.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:25 PM   #41
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I understand this criticism, but, to be fair, the site has grappled with that issue before. I remember reading a Depeche Mode review, perhaps for Playing the Angel, claiming that a band of DM's stature must be assessed in relation to its past work, if only because the reviewer cannot step outside the memories of that work. So it is with U2 - No Line was disappointing to the reviewer because it did not stand up to earlier albums, which have all been reviewed quite favorably. I'm not defending this perspective, which is really just epistemological posturing, rather just suggesting that certain reviewers are aware of an ostensible bias towards established acts.

The music that Pitchfork recommends has impressed me, with only a few exceptions. I find myself reading the site more often than I would like to admit.
I agree with this; the reviewer finds it really hard to connect with the past material, and I can understand that to an extent, but it's not just that - it's the image, success and the history of the band or its members (which necessarily doesn't have to have anything with the music) that sometimes is a factor in the grade as well.

The Them Crooked Vultures review is a good example; it goes on and on about past supergroups and about the supergroup mentality, something of which the reviewer obviously knows everything about and that is crucial in the final grade. This quote is hilarious:

"One of the negative aspects of a supergroup is that the presence of multiple stars tends to disrupt the natural hierarchy of a band-- meaning that there's no one to shoot down bad or unnecessary ideas."

On what basis does he conclude this? It's bullshit, pure and simple. There's no way this guy could know how Dave Grohl's ego works while working with Homme and Jones.

What's ironic is... I would actually give the TCV record a 7 or so. But not for the absurd reasons mentioned in Pitchfork's review.
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Old 11-24-2009, 01:32 PM   #42
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It's much better to use them to take a look at their "Best New Music" ratings than anything else, obviously.

And their ratings often are based on trivial things: the 4.2 for NLOTH was only because it wasn't Achtung Baby, and no one told them not to listen to Bono talk about his own work. If they'd listened to it on its own merits, there's no way it's worse than ATYCLB.
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I understand this criticism, but, to be fair, the site has grappled with that issue before. I remember reading a Depeche Mode review, perhaps for Playing the Angel, claiming that a band of DM's stature must be assessed in relation to its past work, if only because the reviewer cannot step outside the memories of that work. So it is with U2 - No Line was disappointing to the reviewer because it did not stand up to earlier albums, which have all been reviewed quite favorably. I'm not defending this perspective, which is really just epistemological posturing, rather just suggesting that certain reviewers are aware of an ostensible bias towards established acts.
Well if it's all relative to what the band's done before, then how the hell did they agree to assign a 6.9 to Atomic Serve? That review was very fair, acknowledging the songcraft and the occasional moment of brilliance, but not hesitating to point out many shortcomings. The 5.0 that ATYCLC received isn't drastically lower, and one would imagine they felt the 2004 album had a bit more teeth and was viewed to be less boring.

But the review for No Net seems more reactionary. Kind of like what Peef implied, that they were expecting something really experimental, only got about half of that, and wants to punish the band for their failure to go all the way. I guess there are going to be many people who prefer the previous two 00's albums, but at Pitchfork? You'd think the band changing things up, even a little, would engender some respect. And that's what really doesn't make sense, because while it's being judged relative to the band's early work from the 80's and 90's, it's not being judged in relation to what they've recently been doing.
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Old 11-24-2009, 02:35 PM   #43
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Seriously, though, are lukewarm, fair reviews really that objectionable?
No, nothing wrong with those at all. Bear in mind, both of those records would receive a 9.0-9.2 or so from me so, relative to that, their score is quite low. But, like Lance said, Sea Change (and Tallahassee, for that matter) have received their props in the ensuing years. It's just a symptom of the typical reviewing system of these sorts of online mags: inevitably, one writer will disagree with another, and perhaps even be the dissenting opinion/devil's advocate, yet still get signed on to review the record, which causes a great deal of inconsistency. It's a flaw, but it's hardly unique to Pitchfork.
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Old 11-24-2009, 03:27 PM   #44
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Well, I don't know how most magazines or big websites like this work, but I would imagine there'd be some kind of editorial board where the various members all throw in their opinions, and then someone is chosen to write the review whose views are closest to the consensus.

But perhaps that's not the case. It should be, as one person who has a completely out-of-step take on it shouldn't be representing the whole entity. If we're talking about someone who's a big name (like Robert Christgau), they're obviously only speaking for themselves and are trusted to be somewhat objective, or you read them enough to know their likes/dislikes/blindspots.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:00 PM   #45
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Wasn't it Pitchfork that had that terrible review of Boxer and they left it up, but went ahead and had someone write a more positive review later? Maybe it was a different site.

I bring this up because of you talking about an editorial board, Laz. It doesn't seem like the website as a whole agreed with the rating Boxer was given (Unless I'm talkingabout a different site, in which case this whole post is a waste).
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