Album: Depart from Me
Critic: Jared Bier
Publication: Tiny Mix Tapes, 2009
Writing Disorders: Detachment Syndrome, Jargon Palsy, Scorn Disease
Most Emo Phrase: “depressingly devoid of the heaviness”
Hi, Jared. Today is Thanksgiving, and I had a choice between featuring your review or Pitchfork’s 1000-word article on how Animal Collective’s new five-song EP is the bee’s knees. I chose yours. It’s a holiday after all. Man’s gotta eat.
Actually, it was your opening sentence that sold me:
“While some works of art inspire immediate, heartfelt invectives, there are others that can yield only well-reasoned opinion.”
You mean like how some jargon can inspire immediate loathing, while other jargon can yield only aversion? HA-HA. Nice one, professor. Oh, but I kid…
Jared, I’d like to introduce you to a strange concept. It’s called “the first person.” When writing an opinion of something, it’s quite useful. It tells readers that it’s your opinion, not theirs. Let me give you an example of when the first person is appropriate. Here’s what you wrote:
“Depart From Me, on the other hand, takes the listener through a long, drawn-out calibration of emotional responses.”
Now read the same passage written in the first person:
“Depart From Me, on the other hand, took me through a long, drawn-out calibration of emotional responses.”
Sounds more embarrassing that way doesn’t it? Be that as it may Jared, I don’t think it’s right to avoid the uncomfortable presentation by just grafting your opinion of music onto “the listener.” Audiences aren’t lumped into one entity like a Cormac McCarthy character. Either write your opinion as your own or say how it MIGHT be similar to other people’s reaction to the album. As things stand, you’re just writing a one-star review of someone’s art like it’s a foregone conclusion everyone agrees with. That’s lazy.
I think there are two possible reasons for your avoidance of “I” or “me” in reviews. One is that you learned in college that writing an essay from your own perspective is a no-no, but I don’t think that’s the real reason. The other possibility is that since the first person forces you to own up to the things you write, it’s easier to write mean things by throwing it aside. I think your writing would immediately improve if you confronted yourself with the most basic realization that you actually wrote this crap. Not “the author.” You.
Anyway, let’s get to the crap.
Your big bone to pick with this album seems to be how it’s not mature enough for you — not enough wrinkles….bone structure too intact…that kind of thing.
“his streetwise approach — once engrossing and reflective — has become obnoxiously juvenile.”
“The remainder of the record completes Cage’s walkabout from sophistication to childishness.”
“Cage’s writing here seems to approximate the snickering self-approval of snot-nosed pubescence”
What cheek! How uncouth! That rapscallion dareth speak ill of society in such a boorish tongue?!
Were you born a 21-year-old, Jared? Somehow I’m not convinced that you listened to music more profound than this when you were fighting acne and doing algebra homework. I have a feeling you were head-banging to nu metal just like the rest of us. (To the people who listened to Pavement in high school, sorry, but I ran out of shiny gold stars.) Let the kids be kids. Don’t bash angst like it’s a disease you never had.
Oh, and speaking of self-approval, does any of this ring a bell?
“That the record galvanizes one’s thoughts is indeed creditable”
“consternation quickly replaces this indifference”
“Depart From Me demonstrates an immaturity that will render Cage’s career difficult to reconcile”
None of that screams modesty, Jared, but I’ll stop there. Figured you needed something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.