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 Ben Pratt

Modern Day Music Criticism Sucks

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I remember the first time that I heard The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me, I thought it sucked. It ended up taking me about two weeks before I eventually came around). I thought it was boring, depressing, long, empty and an overall letdown on their previous effort Deja Entendu (another favourite album of mine that I didn’t fully grasp and appreciate until a solid few spins), and their debut, Your Favourite Weapon (just another pop punk album from the early 00s, really. Always has been, always will be, no matter what people say). So, imagine if I had gone and written a 250-word review on The Devil And God… after the first couple of listens. No doubt being the smart-mouthed, quick-witted, beat punk kid that I am, I would have came up with something like this:

The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is Brand New’s third album and it sees the band from Long Island further develop the sad, desperate, attention seeking, emo sound that they delivered to us in their previous release, Deja Entendu. Aside from the usual worship of The Smiths from Jesse Lacey (he even resorted to stealing the opening of their song, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ for one of their choruses), all I can really gather is this is just another attempt of emo, self-pity, angst and depression. The weak attempts at metaphors in the songwriting are not transparent in the slightest and you are often lead to scratch your head and wonder what the fuck they are taking with lyrics like, “You tiny boat with all feather on/The world tips back and pours and pours”.

The only track with any stand out appeal is ‘Jesus’, only because it is the least bland and stale body I could chose from in a mortuary filled with 12 dead fuckers. ‘Handcuffs’ is the only one that’s really any different from the rest. Written by guitarist Vinnie Arcardi, it’s a four-minute-long acoustic track that at least finishes the album on a positive note. If this is the way that ’emo’ or ‘alternative’ music is heading then you may as well blow my fucking brains out now because if this is the best you got to offer then I may as well be dead. [1]

If something like that got published under my name at the point of the album’s release, and I read it two months later, I would have been that unshaven man you find sitting all alone at the end of the bar in the early morning hours, throwing back doubles of scotch and 7-Up, with my black tie loosely hanging around my neck and bags under my eyes like I hadn’t slept for days, and if I had, it had been on my drunk arse, laying in my own self-pity on the floor of that very bar. OK, maybe not that depressed, but pretty miserable. Nothing a night in with some pizza, a six pack and dime-bag couldn’t fix. But, I’m moving away from my point. What if this review was published by Rolling Stone or MOJO days after its release, only to be hailed, “A quantum leap above not only Brand New’s prior work… but beyond anything that any band in this scene are currently creating” in Alternate Press two months after it was released (and scoring it at 100 – but not like that matters or anything). What the fuck would publishing my (inaccurate) review do to my credibility as a source of educated opinion and knowledge?

You look pretty dazed now so lemme ask you a few questions. What are your 10 favourite records? From those, how many did you fall in love with on first listen? Not many of them, huh? Now, think of the records that you went out and busted your pocket money on just because of the hype and excitement behind them. They’re the records that get played non-stop for a week and a bit and then go back in their sleeve when you can finally afford to go out and buy some Brand New instead. The records that are talked about in only adjective form from the music press because it sounded good for the six hours they had to listen to it and get 250 words out about it. [Six hours? Fucking 60 seconds, more like – Affronted Ed]

You’re starting to see it, aren’t you? Leaning forward, eyebrows raised and eyes widened. Like you’ve finally heard me spit-ball enough to understand that time is a virtue, and how important it is to tell the difference between a great record and a pretty average record. Even if it’s only a few days, you need ‘dat quality time, son.

Enough though, I’m rambling. You just want to hear me tell you why every critic who wrote off Simple Math for no good reason is gonna wake up smelling like cheap scotch, in a pile of self-pity at some dirty down-town topless bar, in the early hours of the morning, don’t cha? And just cause you’ve sat through this far without too much complaining, I’m gonna try and make it relatively interesting for you.

(continues overleaf)

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24 Responses to Modern Day Music Criticism Sucks

  1. Pingback: First impressions: Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts « Reinspired

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