Album: Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast
Critic: Eric Harvey
Publication: Pitchfork, 2010
Writing Disorders: Infectious Punctuation, Idea Fever
Most Sterile Phrase: “cross-cultural musical hybridization has exponentially increased in the past decade”
Most Hyphens in One Sentence: 7
Eric, for the most part you write like every other music louse reviewing albums like extra credit for Exploring the English Essay. But I noticed that you’ll occasionally throw in a word or two belonging to the common folk — you know, a “shit” here or a “wow” there to balance out “didactic” and “exegesis.” Starting off a sentence with “sure” or “hell” might have meant a looser tone if you didn’t follow it with all manner of stuffy, interminable thoughts. Example:
“Sure, the late-1990s version of global alt-pop is weak compared to the current peer-to-peer-fueled, M.I.A.- and Vampire Weekend-populated stuff.”
I know, huh? Late-90’s global alt-pop only WISHES it had the hyphens of modern alt-pop. Speaking of hyphens, did that key on your keyboard get stuck or something?
“the snarky cover-as-cultural-reclamation project”
“a string-and-bassoon-laden arrangement”
Eric, there are plenty of ways that you can A), write sentences without resorting to such ridiculous hyphenation while B), making them a lot shorter. But I won’t belabor the punctuation, since there’s plenty in your review that would reek even without the clunky structure. Here’s my favorite pile of scat:
“Cibo Matto, Cornelius, and Buffalo Daughter fueled my fascination with Tokyo’s short-lived Shibuya-kei scene. Air, Daft Punk, and London-based Stereolab taught me that French pop culture meant more than 1960s New Wave flicks. The Score‘s Haitian expat hip-hop, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan bringing Sufi to the NPR crowd– hell, even Odelay exoticized Americana in a way that I’d never heard before. I could go on, but I’d rather not discuss Ozomatli and Buena Vista Social Club.”
Oh please, do go on. What’s the harm in mentioning another eight examples of how your car CD collection was infinitely more cultured than the rest of ours in the mid-90s? It really does enhance our understanding of Cornershop. But…why would you rather not discuss Ozomatli? Does it bring back bad memories of some impudent girl asking in exasperation if you had any Smashing Pumpkins?
Thankfully you only took around 300 words to start discussing the album you were charged with reviewing. Otherwise I might have thought you were reviewing your own life. But boy, do you roll out the insight on this band:
“It’s not clear whether the group embraced its rock leanings as a conservative reaction to his eclectic peer group, but regardless, the results can feel a bit light.”
Ah yes, I can hear it now – a heated argument between band members…
Singh: We have no choice, man. We have to embrace our rock leanings.
Ayres: You don’t mean that, dude. That’s just a conservative reaction to your eclectic peer group. You KNOW the results will feel a bit light.
Singh: That’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Eric, I don’t understand why you felt the need to avoid the first person when discussing your reaction to the album after you OPENED your review with a lengthy personal anecdote. You’re not afraid to bare your brand of CD case and your personal collection of car music, but you’re deathly frightened of writing “I liked this” or “I didn’t care for that?” If conventional wisdom says that a music review should be impersonal to make it impartial, then you have no business writing such wanking history about your life in the last decade.
I think you know what you need to work on, Eric, so be sure to go home and practice. Music could use one less longspun jackanape telling it what to be.