When pitchforkmedia.com was established in 1995, few could suspect that it would become the fire-breathing, festival booking, so-called “taste makers” that they are today. In 1996, they reviewed Beck’s classic album, Odelay, giving it a deserved 9.6 out of 10 rating, and writing an expansive review that took up all of 207 words (the Wikipedia article about the song is even longer).
Yesterday, we saw a Paul Westerberg album, which received a modest 7.1 rating, get a review that was three times as long as the amount of space the band gave Odelay twelve years back. Sometimes, this new found power and the longer reviews lead to succinct, well crafted musical opinions. And sometimes they’re just plain retarded. So, in the spirit of fairness, below we have the five best pitchfork music reviews, as well as the five worst.
5 BEST PITCHFORK REVIEWS
We all know Jet as one of the first bands to be featured on those ipod commercials where hipster silhouettes dance in a spastic fashion that is remarkably similar to African tribal dance…
They also shamelessly, and quite obviously, stole their melodies and sound from bands ranging from Oasis to AC/DC. And, as we all know, if there’s one thing pitchfork doesn’t like, it’s bands that shamelessly and obviously steal their melodies and sound from bands like Oasis and AC/DC (and/or, a hip band they liked in the past becomes too popular).
And while pitchfork’s review of their first album was merely snarky and insulting, their review of the even worse sophomore album (Does it count as a Sophomore slump if the first album wasn’t that particularly good?) was remarkably indicting.
You notice how the link says it’s Not Safe For Work? Well, I’m not kidding. Pitchfork didn’t even bother to give this album a rating.
They just posted a video of a monkey peeing into its own mouth. Classy.
The best reviews on pitchfork accurately describe a shift that a genre either is making, or is about to make. A year before Weezy blew us away and sold a million albums in a week, pitchfork latched onto Mr. Carter’s CD, where he just freestyles over the beats of top 40 hits.
While the album is fun in its own right, and it’s described effectively by the pitchfork writers, They basically get props for posting one of Lil Wayne’s best probably-pot-and-syrup fueled rants in the opening line.
“Everybody in this fuckin’ game got the game fucked up. Work, man, work. I feel you, Nas, the new rappers today, they act like R&B singers. Man, what is you done?! Go into the studio with clips– ammo: positive subjects, bitches, niggas, fake niggas, club song, ho’s that shake their… Who am I shootin’ at? I got bullets for days.”- Lil Wayne’s Youtube Rant
In a word, badass. And it’s a review that hinted at the notoriety Wayne would achieve just a year later.
Let’s take it down a notch here, ladies and gentlemen. Really, this is just a well crafted review about a band that’s a little unusual, but who deserves pitchfork-laden recognition. I don’t have any jokes to tell about this which, given the fact that I’m trying to write a top (insert number) list centered on humor, is probably a poor editorial choice.
But this review probably has the best description of one of my favorite songs by this Philly band, and it manages to make fun of two Emo bands I very much dislike at the same time, which is, by most recent calculations, about 6 kinds of awesome (for you Europeans out there, that translates to about 8.5 cubic awesome circles).
Pitchfork, surprisingly enough, reaches the point of poetic poignancy as they say, “On ‘Van Helsing Boombox’, Honus hums and whistles along to the bell hook, delaying himself from articulating the actualities of a breakup: learning ‘how to speak a forgotten language’, wanting ‘to sleep for weeks like a dog at her feet,’ falling in the street and howling at the moon. Think of the man you most admire– your father, maybe– then remember the first time you saw him cry. The song hits like that: broken and embarrassed and yards of dirt more convincing than your Glibbards and Blight Eyes.”
You know how I know you’re gay? You’ve heard that song and totally appreciate the description.
…Shit, did I just call myself gay?
Here we have another instance of an album that’s badass, and a review that matches the level of badass…uh…ness in the pitchfork review of Art Brut’s first, and best, album.What makes the review perfect is that the album never takes itself seriously, and neither does the review. The review, instead, just takes choice lyrics from the album (such as “I’ve seen her naked…TWICE!”), puts them in bold, and comments on how, omg u guyz, the lyrics are so fucking awesome.I’m sure they tell you not to do that in pretentious review writing 101, but I’m glad that pitchfork here decided to forgo that specific lesson.
So, you know how a lot of the time you hate pitchfork because they sort of come off as douchebags? And they go about with this air of superiority, because they just think they’re so fucking great? Well, sometimes that works for them. Like here.
First of all, let’s get something out of the way here. Louis XIV sucks. They are a band that gets the ire of pitchfork, but totally righteously. So I’m okay with the 1.2 out of 10 rating here. But what I’m even more okay with is the fact that this review is fucking hilarious. There’s no direct critique of the album, just a dialogue between the band’s lead singer, and his doctor. Choice lines include
“I’m so healthy I can drink more than pregnant hookers in heat. I’m so ripped I can stick needles in my arms, then stick needles in my needles’ arms. I’ve fucked so many girls in the last five minutes that I’m gonna be orgasming straight through May. And don’t even get me started about how many girls I’ve fucked in the last five minutes.”
“And then I’m like, fuck you, bitch. I’m a fuck machine with only one speed: fuck.”
“They get what they want–rock music that sounds like what they’re told the best rock music is supposed to sound like, and I get what I want– pussysex with sweet virgins right in their dickholes. That’s the shit I’m on, man. Man.”
In a word. Glorious.
5 WORST PITCHFORK REVIEWS
This review isn’t necessarily bad, per se. But it’s damn disappointing.I n fact, to be perfectly honest, I can’t really pick out a single line here that is just awful and laughable. Which is disappointing for me, really. I should have spent my time trying to find a pitchfork review that says “I love me some titties” and gives a pop album a 8.4, but I’m lazy, and this review put a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it came out, so I’ve got a score to settle.
For months before this album was released, the pitchfork news staff was ranting and raving about the album. Bragging about how they had a copy, how it was incredible. Meanwhile, the album itself didn’t leak to the internet until only two weeks before the release – in contrast, their newest album, Stay Positive, leaked several months before its release (thanks to their decision to stream the whole album on their myspace).
So, after all this bragging and raving by pitchfork, what do they give us? An opus to the best garage rock band around? No. Just a mediocre review.Bleh.
Meanwhile, on the very same day as The Hold Steady review, pitchfork again dropped the fucking ball with this actually-quite-atrocious review of Silversun Pickup’s “Carnavas.” The review was released at a horrible time – the album had been out for over three months already, but it was about three months away from exploding behind the band’s release of their single Lazy Eye. So here we see pitchfork dissing a band (a band, by the way, that is actually quite good), but in doing so they are neither ahead of the music curve nor ripping apart a popular band.
Instead, you get a shit article that complains about songs that are too long (the songs rarely go over five minutes in length), and which have too much screamed vocals (yet pitchfork is madly in love with Mastodon).
Fun fact – this will not be the first online article to rip on the writer of this review. If you google the reviewers name, the third thing that hits discusses another one of her record reviews, saying that it is, “Predictably retarded.” How something can be predictable in its retardation is a bit beyond my pay grade, but I agree with the sentiment.
I’m starting to see a trend with pitchfork fucking up reviews for bands that have Craig Finn. Before he rocked and rolled Springsteen style with The Hold Steady, his Minnesota band Lifter Puller was rocking with very similar efficiency.
Now, here’s why pitchfork really dropped the ball on this.They gave the album a 3.2, which is absurd in the first place when you listen to the album. What makes it just plain stupid is the fact that every single other album that Craig Finn has ever done (including a Lifter Puller compilation that has all the songs from Fiestas and Fiascos) has received over an 8.0 on pitchfork.
Let’s see what difference five years of pitchfork makes.
1999 – Admittedly by no fault of his own, Craig Finn has inherited one of the most nasal, obnoxious voices in music. He makes full use of his propensity to annoy by ensuring that his lyrics are proportionately disagreeable.
2004 – Born from the ashes of Minneapolis’ beloved Lifter Puller, The Hold Steady emerge as a bar band far too good for the bars, a spectacular mess of sprawling guitar, ferocious vocals, and well-channeled, raucous irritation…Finn’s lyrics and delivery are the crux of The Hold Steady, skewering whole characters and lifestyles with unapologetic aplomb.”
What the fuck? Fuck you, pitchfork.
The album The Wombats Present: A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation made my top albums of the year list for 2006, with such insanely awesome fun songs like “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” “Kill the Director,” and “My First Wedding.”
Since it only recently received its stateside release, Rebecca Raber of pitchfork decided to write a review of it. Before I tell you the rating, let me post some highlight lines from the review.
“It’s predictable, formulaic, often funny, and, with song titles like ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’, maddening in its attempt to capture the zeitgeist. But it’s also broadly appealing in an uncontroversial way and fun as hell once you’ve given in to its sneaky charms.”
“[T]he Wombats distinguish themselves from their fellow countrymen with some impressively supple vocal harmonies and a broad sense of humor. In fact, they might be the first of this most recent post-millennial wave of often indistinguishable Brit dance-pop artists to be enjoyable because they don’t seem to take themselves (or their songs) that seriously.”
Rating- 5.9 out of 10.
…So writing fun, infectious songs is, apparently, the basis for a bad album. Pitchforkmedia: trying to make music boring since 2008.
1. 3/5 of the albums ranked as the #1 album of the year in pitchfork year-end lists.
Nowhere does pitchfork come off like a Marvel comic villain hybrid of hipster and severely autistic child more then when they make end of the year lists. For the past 5 years, they have made some of the worst decisions for their top albums, as highlighted by the albums they choose as their top album of the year.Starting in 2003, where Radiohead and The Wrens released classic albums, and a year that also brought in albums from The Strokes, The Shins, and The Books while they were in their finest form. The album was alright, and it made for fun indie dance parties, but meanwhile, they ignore their rating system, giving the album that received a 9.0 the number 1 spot, while The Meadowlands by The Wrens rode its 9.7 rating to 18th place.
However, nothing has been worse than the past two years, since pitchfork has decided rock albums should not be the best album of the year. Instead, we get The Knife, an album I eventually deleted from my computer because of its underwhelming electronicness, and then Person Pitch by Panda Bear, which is filled with 12 minute songs I don’t pay attention to when I want some background music.
Each time a year end list comes out, I always prepare myself to be disappointed and annoyed. And every year, pitchfork outdoes themselves in their suckiness.
In fact, the last time their end of year list was even remotely correct was also one of the best years in Indie music – 2002.
…Goddamn it pitchfork.You used to be so cool…