Friday, April 24, 2009

"This LP is basically not very good."

This review of Chris Cornell's new album, Scream, is actually more useful than the average review by a professional music critic. (Via ChordStrike.)

In that spirit, I wrote a review of St. Vincent's yet-to-be-released album Actor (which I was anticipating last Music Friday). Here it is, in full, originally appearing as a status update on Facebook:

John Althouse Cohen thinks the new St. Vincent album is pretty good but not as good as Marry Me. Better-produced, though.
You might read reviews of the album in Pitchfork or Rolling Stone, where the critics are trying to (1) satisfy people's word-count expectations and (2) show off their (a) facility with metaphor, (b) aptitude for lyrical analysis, and (c) knowledge of musical influences (probably mentioning Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell), but my Facebook status update tells you everything you need to know.

If you're a fan of St. Vincent based on Marry Me, it's worth getting Actor, but expect a bit of "sophomore slump." If you don't have either of her albums, get Marry Me first, and only get Actor if you really like Marry Me. Any ink spilled, or bandwidth hogged, dissecting this album in any further detail will be superfluous.

4 comments:

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Thanks for a much-needed critique of reviewers' style. It's particularly bad in college-town alternative weeklies, where the reviewers are trying to build portfolios to impress the editors of the major media. (A strategy that might work, since those editors used to be like them.) The ideal of a simple declarative sentence is unknown. They especially lard it up in the first few paragraphs, knowing that people won't read any further. How oft I have read hundreds of words of a review and asked myself, "What is this movie/book about? What kind of music does that performer play?"

Jason (the commenter) said...

I was really looking forward to the new album, then I heard some samples. Now I'm looking forward to the next Regina Spektor album.

JPN said...

Heard. I'm not familiar with St. Vincent (I'll probably add it to my list of musical "to do's") but I've seen more than enough pretentious dissecting and bloviating by music fans and critics alike. I'm always pleased to see an intelligent and cultured person make a deflated and pragmatic observation.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Thanks, all!