Link to Jakob Dorof's review of "Transference" by SpoonArtist: Spoon

Album: Transference

Reviewer: Jakob Dorof

Tiny Mix Tapes, 2010

Writing Disorders: Idea Fever, Infectious Punctuation, Jargon Palsy







Review Length: 1,194 words

Longest Sentence: 77 words

TMI: “making you wanna grit your teeth and open wide”



Wow. Jakob, you KO’ed the Pitchfork review of this Spoon album by nearly 300 words. That’s impressive. And since my site is the only one giving out prizes for such dubious honors, let me be the first to congratulate you for your effort.

Where do I even begin with this foot-long turd? Just to clarify, there WERE 11 tracks on your version of the album, right? I could have sworn that you were reviewing a box set. Take your intro, for example:

“Pitchfork asserted that the following year’s Kill the Moonlight progressed by “tak[ing] a scalpel to the highlight reel of their career,” cutting and pasting themselves into a magnum opus. 2005’s Gimme Fiction found Cokemachineglow marveling at “how singular they sound” after five albums. And Entertainment Weekly summarized…”

After you finally get tired of cramming your opening paragraph full of other people’s thoughts fitted with updated tenses, you have this to say:

“I’ll spare you snippets of message board chatter and Last.fm shoutbox debates”

But you just couldn’t resist snippets from Pitchfork, Cokemachineglow, and Entertainment Weekly? Are you hoping the music history fairy will give you 3.5 stars for your impressive use of secondary sources? Just introduce the album you’re supposed to be writing about. Who knows? You might retain some readers by trimming your text to an anorexic 1100 words. By the way, thanks for including hyperlinks. I’ll be sure to verify that those publications asserted, marveled, and summarized.

Pretty much everything wrong with your review has to do with your inability to keep any thought under 2 miles long. Example:

“suffice it to say that Spoon’s reputation as a band of continual self-revision and -refinement is one that has trickled down to man-on-the-street fans and skeptics alike.”

I’m shaking my head, Jakob. Why? Why did you tack that hyphenated strap-on to a noun that’s descriptive enough by itself? Did you do it to differentiate Spoon fans who utilize streets for locomotion from those who don’t? Thanks for that.

There are so many silly metaphors in this review, so I’m just going to highlight my favorite:

“Chop, Combine, Pulse, Beat — ignoring the smoother blends and elegant accents of settings like Frappé or Purée”

Where do Grate, Grind, Liquefy, and Ice Crush fit in with your blender metaphor? Maybe Spoon will upgrade to the next model Osterizer on their next album. Here’s to hoping not, though. I think too many blender settings is a sign of a band running out of ideas.

It’s hard to choose just one fat sentence to scrutinize from such a large herd, but I’ll try my best:

“A survey of their very best material reveals a breadth of formal and stylistic diversity that is practically panoramic, whether we’re talking about the breezy Casio summer pop of “Anything You Want,” the serpentine rock epic that is “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” or the paradoxically boundless and claustrophobic dimension of sound known as “Paper Tiger” (a noirish, streetlit ballad unlike anything else, in Spoon’s repertoire or anybody else’s).”

Jesus Christ. Jakob, sit yourself down. We need to have a talk, man to man. Now, I’m guessing a few years ago you probably saw “Almost Famous” and thought to yourself that it’d be cool to be in that kid’s shoes. You’re probably thinking that after a couple years writing for internet music zines that can’t even afford to pay their writers, you’ll be on the fast track to national attention. I’m going to save you the crushing disappointment. You write like a thousand other postmodern critics – 5 fingers on a keyboard and the other 5 fetching a fart to sniff. Don’t believe me? Read:

“Spoon unquestionably possess a unique and singular vision of rock”

“the paradoxically boundless and claustrophobic dimension of sound”

“like the contrapuntal montage of an Eisenstein film vis-à-vis rock ’n’ roll”

“There is no underdog, paper tiger, beast, or dragon to adore here”

Cheer up, Jakob. The good news is that there IS a lesson to be learned from “Almost Famous.” I eventually learned it myself. You know when Stillwater takes the stage and William starts scribbling notes on his pad? Did you ever notice how Kate Hudson pushes the pad away and the kid starts to loosen up and have fun? You might want to watch that scene again. You might learn something.