link to Joshua Love's Review of Arrow by Clare and the ReasonsArtist: Clare and the Reasons

Album: Arrow

Reviewer: Joshua Love

Pitchfork, 2009

Writing Disorders: Idea Fever, Jargon Palsy








Longest Sentence: 68 words

Dollar Words: frothiness, simulacrums, estimable, juxtaposing, mimesis, hagiography

Adverb Fouls: “modestly friendly,” “mildly burbling,” “especially frisky”




Josh, given that you’ve already been featured on RipFork, I’m dismayed that you haven’t improved your writing at all. Let’s start with your main beef with this band, Clare and the Reasons:

“New York-based indie-poppers Clare and the Reasons seem willing to turn an appreciation of John, Paul, George, and Ringo into a guiding artistic principle.”

So, you’re saying that this band is influenced by the Beatles? Whoa there, get that 5.1 stamp ready. TOTAL band crime. Wait, the Beatles were pretty awesome, so why is it bad to sound like them? Well, let’s find out:

“it doesn’t change the fact that overt Beatles simulacrums are all over this record, to the point where it begins to pull your attention away from any recognition of Clare and the Reasons’ charms– though perhaps those charms aren’t quite pronounced enough in the first place to convincingly outweigh games of spot-that-soundalike.”

Hmm…I don’t understand what you’re getting at because your writing is too dense. Let’s just move on to the next Beatles gripe:

“When the Beatles first made these sounds the effect was revolutionary– reproducing them 40 years after the fact is, at best, a charming dead end.”

Ah, I finally get your point. You’re saying that 40 years and thousands of bands later, pop music should still sound completely original. Josh, let me know when you whip out that guitar and strum the next best thing. Maybe it’ll be music without notes, chords, time signatures, melodies, harmonies, or influences. In the meantime, if you’re going to give bands crappy ratings because they don’t write songs that are wholly original, then you might benefit from either a), building a time machine so you can go back to when that was actually possible, or b), lowering your expectations to reasonable 2009 levels.

Half the review is more about what the band isn’t than what it is. When you finally tear yourself away from gabbing about how Clare and the Reasons sound too much like the Fab Four, you criticize them for not sounding enough like an arbitrary musician:

“St. Vincent has lately demonstrated that you can construct a compelling aesthetic by juxtaposing highly mannered vocalisms with arty, unpredictable sonic fare, but Clare and the Reasons refuse to stretch beyond polite listenability in any arena”

Yeah, why can’t this band be more like that band? Copying a contemporary artist is definitely better than being influenced by one that hasn’t cut a record in nearly four decades. I’m sure it’d be worth at least a 6.7.

By the way, what the hell are you talking about? Read this crap:

“you can construct a compelling aesthetic by juxtaposing highly mannered vocalisms with…”

Josh, if you had to teach a kid to tie his shoes, he’d probably end up hanging himself with the strings. Here’s how I reckon that lesson might go down:

Josh: Now, impressionable youth, I request that you grasp the termini, cross the cords as one drapes cornhusks for pagan solstice decoration, then thread the rightmost boot-twine underhill, as if chasing a errant feline through an apse…

Would it kill you to write in layman’s terms? If this band sounds so much like the Beatles, then isn’t the music pretty simple? You know…yesterday, love was such an easy game to play? Do you need to write about the music like you’d write a thesis on the hierarchical modalities of gender pronouns?

Speaking of style, I see that your writing hasn’t lost any of its obesity. Take this gem:

“Instead, we get modestly friendly string-and-horn arrangements, and, if the band’s feeling especially frisky, perhaps a bit of mildly burbling synth (“You Got Time”, “Perdue a Paris”).”

Wow, so many questions spring to mind. Does Pitchfork have editors? If so, do they edit? If they do edit, do they think that it’s best to keep five modifiers that end in “y” in a single sentence?

I’ll hold the fire on your technical skills, Josh. You see, my favorite part of any bad review is when the reviewer gives his two cents about what he thinks would make the album a winner:

“It’s hard to encounter these songs and not daydream about how a little dissonance and unpredictability could add a wealth of tension and gratification to the proceedings.”

Or maybe it would sound like a crappy knockoff of Pavement. Who knows? If you know what would sound so much better, why aren’t you in the band helping the “proceedings?”

I’ll end with the best:

“even the horns on the band’s superfluous cover of Genesis’ “That’s All” hearken back to Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s far more than anything from the Phil Collins playbook.”

Oh yes, because if the song sounded genuinely like Phil Collins, I’m sure this band would earn much higher praise. Josh, please address your writing before the next exam or you’re going to fail this term.