Response from a Disgruntled Gotye fan
I also didn’t understand Scott’s conclusion that ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ is “just way too subtle to resonate”. It has been stuck at the top of the charts since it was released. No, no, no, it clearly resonated with nobody. He went further and took apart the lyrical story behind the song. I don’t get what this achieves. The songwriter is telling a story. That’s how the story goes. If the protagonist is a jack-ass, then that’s what he is. Maybe it’s a tale of regret? If Robin Williams wanted to see his kids, he could’ve got a better lawyer and had a stoush in court. But in Mrs Doubtfire, he chose to dress up as a woman instead. That’s how the story goes. I would’ve much preferred for Little Red Riding Hood to have left glow-in-the-dark condoms throughout the forest, instead of bread crumbs, but that’s how the story goes. Ms Hood was an idiot for not dropping into a 7-11 before going into the woods.
The element of Scott’s review that I took issue with the most was his excessive use of unconstructive hyperbole and his irrelevant and inaccurate analysis of Gotye’s extra-curriculars. No reader is aided by any of this. Mildly entertained, perhaps, but not helped in any meaningful way.
For example, where Scott said that he wanted to shove needles in his eyes it takes the ‘review’ to an unnecessary extreme, and takes away from any credibility that the rest of the piece may have had. I firstly doubt that Scott actually wanted to stab himself in the brain (not that I would’ve minded). That is ludicrous. But, forgiven by journalistic licence, maybe? If so, then tell me why he wanted to stab himself through the eyes. This is just self-indulgent, unimaginative and unhelpful writing. It starts to become all about the writer and not about the subject-matter. Telling the reader what you felt is fine; that’s part of the job of a reviewer. But taking it to that extreme, and without backing it up, is pointless and incredulous.
Another example of utter tripe that Scott spewed out is where he said, “One gets the feeling that Gotye hasn’t read a book since he was 10 unless it was assigned by a teacher”. I have three things to say here. First, Scott’s attempt at distancing himself from the observation by using the word ‘one’ rather that ‘I’ (which he used everywhere else) is a sneaky way to persuade the reader to think the same, or to give the assertion some broader credibility. Second, what is the relevance of his literature habits? A God-darn large swag of contemporary artists are influenced purely (or at least to a large degree) by music. Just because Nick Cave pilfers most of his lyrical subject matter from the Bible, does that make him a more worldly, profound lyricist? Third, Scott’s assertion is downright wrong. Relevantly, I am led to believe that Wally de Backer actually worked in a library, of all placed, while working on his first album. A library. Those places where people borrow and read books. So, unless it was a library that only stocked copies of Animal Farm and The Tempest, my guess is that Scott just aimlessly “threw a bunch of shit up against a wall to see if anything stuck”.
But, I’ve had enough of deconstructing Scott’s garbage, so I’ll now turn my attention to a couple parts of your defence of his review.
First, I made a blind accusation that Scott is a “talentless freelance journalist” in my original comment, and you leapt to his defence. You totally missed the point I was making. I was demonstrating the very aspect of Scott’s review that I criticised – making blind, uninformed assumptions. I’m obviously in no position to make statements about Scott’s career. I don’t know him. I’ve never heard of him. I don’t know what his employment arrangements are. But that’s just what Scott did in ‘reviewing’ Gotye’s album – made a bunch of unsubstantiated (and irrelevant) presumptions, for his own self-aggrandisement.
Second, I said that I thought the review was poorly written. I stand by that. There were parts that were colourful and slightly articulate, but on the whole, it “just didn’t resonate” with me. In response, you heralded Scott’s Swiftian reference like it was some sort of revelation in music criticism. Rubbish. Criticising a song for ‘lacking Swiftian insight’ is pretentious, undergraduate-level, academic bollocks. Since when did we listen to modern pop music through the ears of Jonathan Swift? Sorry, before I say that, I should probably check JS’s CV to make sure he didn’t actually do a stint as an A&R guy for Interscope back in the day.
I would like to keep writing, but I must return to my job in the ‘real world’.
More than anything, what I like about Making Mirrors (like his other albums) is that it demonstrates the three essential qualities that I look for in music: It’s timeless. It’s simple (in that it doesn’t try to be complex for its own sake). And, it’s different.
It’s fine that your blog panned the album. Each to their own. And, tall poppy syndrome is rife in the indie music world. Or maybe your people just didn’t ‘get’ the album (a radio music director’s code for “it sits outside my narrow box of comprehension and convention”). To me, it seems like your blog made it a priority on the editorial agenda to pan the album that everyone was raving about. That’s fine. An alternative view is always welcomed. But it’s more welcomed when that view is an informed, constructive and well-balanced one. You’ll probably keep insisting that Making Mirrors doesn’t ‘do’ anything, but if the album has done one thing, it has provoked this dialogue. And that’s the best thing art can do; start a conversation.
Goyte photography: Justin Edwards
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