Band: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Album: It’s Blitz!
Critic: Melissa Maerz
Publication: Blender, 2009
Writing Disorders: Purple Hemorrhage, Jargon Palsy
Most Emo Phrase: “Whatever it was, it’s something else now. And that something sounds like bliss.”
Melissa, I think the main issue here is that you’re trying to be a beat poet within the confines of the English essay. And when people try that, they get really silly-sounding results like:
“her band serves up boiling-oil guitar bursts and clobbering beats”
“The record was beset by bickering”
“trades his two-sticks-of-dynamite thwack for…”
You know what that sounds like? It sounds like the stuff that Ron Burgundy says to warm up for the news. Remember? The arsonist has oddly shaped feet!
Oh…but you were serious. Well, in that case you have my sympathies. But goofy language aside, some of the things you wrote were downright confusing, like this for example:
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the root word of “orgasmic,” but it’s kind of a black-and-white issue, Melissa. You know, either it’s orgasmic or it’s…regular. Just ask yourself whether Karen O’s voice made you explode with pleasure inside. If you answered “no,” then you’d be better off writing “Karen O didn’t bring me past the threshold of climax.” Or better yet, just say that you LIKED the vocals.
I got the feeling reading your review that in order to understand it, I’d have to be the member of a very exclusive club that understands not only your highfalutin phrasing but your references too:
“her words could’ve come from an Anaïs Nin paperback.”
So for those of us who are Nin virgins, we’d have to research the author and peruse one of the books just to figure out your metaphor? I’m going to take a rain check on that, but just one more thing on the sentence you wrote. The only time you wandered outside the confines of Canterbury Tales grammar was to say “could’ve?” That is hands down the clunkiest contraction in the history of written English. [to people who can think of a worse one, Jesus, I didn’t major in Middle English. You WIN]
And of course there are moments that just made me chuckle:
“Zinner has stopped wielding his guitar like a flamethrower (at times he even abandons it altogether)”
Yes, imagine Nick Zinner in the alien queen’s chamber. Just as an egg opens behind him with that slimy sound, he cocks his head and starts spraying staccato notes all over the queen’s brood! Launch a moaning string bend into her ovipositor, man!
Melissa, I’ll end this on a note that I think all music writers could profit from considering. Here you write that Subject A) Nick Zinner, 139 lbs:
“lends a blinking, West African-esque melody to “Dragon Queen”
I often wonder what music critics would do without “esque.” What you would have written if you couldn’t say “West African-esque?”
would you just say…
…it sounded kind of black?