Monday, November 19, 2007

The Last To Know: Pitchfork

Pitchfork makes me want to blow my brains out while slitting my throat and chugging gasoline, but I keep coming back to it.

Pitchfork has to be the most smug, hipster music review site on the internets - they are the review site equivalent of diesel sweeties' Indie Rock Pete. At the same time, I always go back. In fact, I think it's their schtick. The reviewers consistently project a tone of: "because you think this album is awesome, I dislike it that much more".

Case in point - a reviewer criticizes the Avett Brother's new album as being "the most contrived record I've heard this year". Really? More contrived than the new Brittany Spears album that was genetically engineered by producer-cum-psychologists who were masterminding her comeback? But there's the extra sting - they are so cool that they only review music so good that even the good music is contrived - and the stuff that really is contrived - well they've never even heard it. It's like the roam an alternate universe, where reviewers retain personal handlers who employ hapkido to keep non-grounding breaking music at bay. Or try this: when the album is "good, it's intrusively good". How's that again? Is there some quota on sincere praise? Imagine trying that on your woman: "Yeah, the sex was good; but it was intrusively good."

This isn't about the Avett Brothers at all - Emotionalism is a solid album, but I'm not going under blanket on youtube to defend their honor. This is just (another) bitch session about Pitchfork, and the elitism of reviewers on the web (see the AV Club). In fact, this review starts with an insult, but continues to state that they keep coming back. Which is where I come in. Pitchfork seems to love music, but hates all the musicians they review. Like pitchfork, I hate the site, but am addicted to reading their reviews, in a blind hope that they will deem an album I like cool. I keep coming back, and refuse to offer any pure acceptance of admiration. Here I am, 32, and dying to find approval and affirmation from strangers. Giuseppe's come a long way.

I guess I come form the Roger Ebert school of reviewing, where the goal is to present your own honest opinions, and not try to elevate yourself above the art, or more importantly, your audience. Maybe these reviewers really are musical geniuses who ghostwrite reviews under pseudonyms when they aren't releasing 5-star LPs. Maybe they think they are elevating the common man to their elevated state. More likely, they are a group of hipster cornholes who want to be "the camera behind the camera behind the camera". Even when the music is good, it could be better (or its intrusively good). Even though its readership is smarter than the general populace for being aware of pitchfork - its audience is nothing more than a one-eyed man walking through the land of the blind.

1 comment:

rstevens said...

You know, I don't allow myself to read Pitchfork because I don't want them taking credit for Pete's assery! Sadly, I can't make them not exist.