Album: Renaissance: The Mix Collection
Critic: Jess Harvell
Publication: Pitchfork, 2009
Writing Disorders: Infectious Punctuation, Jargon Palsy
Number of Hyphens: 35
Jess, like so many other music critics, you have a severe aversion to brevity. Take this sentence as an example:
“M.A.N.D.Y. have used the platform provided by UK superclub imprint Renaissance– which once meant you’d ascended to the ranks of dance music’s money-making populist frontline– to put together a history-lesson-cum-slow-burn showcase, rather than a cutesy game of connect-the-dots between Old Tune X and New Tune Y.”
Jess, writing lengthy parenthetical or double-dash asides in an already ponderous review just makes it more difficult to read. And when the asides are so packed with jargon that readers forget what the original sentence was even about, you’re not doing well on audience retention. It’s not like the jargon adds more to our understanding of the album you’re reviewing. It just tells us that you’re afraid to use the word “fans.” Money-making populist frontline? Jesus Christ, open a window and get some fresh air. You need it.
While we’re on the subject of obtuse phrasing, we might as well touch on that hyphenated monster you chucked in for good measure. I don’t know why music critics are so keen to write “cum” in a music review like they’re trying to take the word back from Redtube, but it’s one of the clunkiest constructions imaginable. And from what I gather, it’s used to condense phrases by removing the need for linking verbs and prepositions. But I think having too many REAL words wouldn’t top the list of problems that you had with your article here.
You could be making all of your claims up as far as I know, but you used so many hyphens and slashes that it’s difficult to tell…or care. Read this crap:
“proto-IDM and 21st-century freak-house”
“streamlined late-aughts dance music”
“the identikit minimal/deep pack”
Who knows, Jess? Maybe these references are obvious to the populist frontline and I’m just ignorant. Maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about and I should leave the “low-key minimal/deep house goodness” to those who listen to it. Maybe I deserve the wrath of “innovation-fixated cranks” for besmirching their beloved music and not taking the time to understand your obese writing. But if that wrath is coming from people who “shake their head in bemused laughter” at “super-pungent Francophile kitsch,” then I think I can take the abuse. I can bench my own weight.
I am a little curious about this M.A.N.D.Y. duo, though. From what little I can decipher out of your review, their music seems worthwhile…maybe:
“it’s the outré and half-forgotten stuff, the odd little hooks and nostalgia-triggering throwbacks, strewn among the austere beeps and pulses, that will keep you coming back.”
I LOVE austere beeps! Boy, I’m going to go out and buy this on vinyl so I can fully appreciate the outré! I just know it will keep me coming back 🙂
Eh, that’ll do it for now, Jess. You racked another mulligan here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something positive you managed to execute. You gave an album a rating ending in a zero. Shiny gold star for you.