Artist: Gigi

Album: Maintentant

Reviewer: Stuart Berman

Pitchfork, 2010

Writing Disorders: Jargon Palsy, Idea Fever, Toxic Tedium








Longest Sentence: 64 words

Stuffiest Phrase: “beyond this incongruity, there are redundancies”




Stuart, your awful writing might have slipped past my nets today if not for certain events in the Western Conference. When it became clear that Ivan Drago was going to beat the Nuggets, I figured I’d see what kind of dreadful slush made the cover of Pitchfork. Sure enough, there was plenty to dull the senses and strip music of all of its lure and beauty.

Honestly, do you ever feel ashamed of making all music sound like a trip to the dentist? Any album unlucky enough to feel the touch of your sterile hand ends up sounding like a cataclysm of boredom, regardless of how you felt about it.  To all the bands out there that Stuart Berman has written interminable tracts of fluff about: you have my sympathies.

Do you have any regard for an audience, Stuart, or do you just treat music writing as power training for your jargon muscle? It was hard to narrow down choice examples of your babble, but take these two for reference:

Maintenant feels more an extension of a certain Vancouver-bred pop classicism– one that dates back to Carl Newman’s pre-New Pornographers outfit Zumpano”

“it serves to contemporize an album that both deliberately evokes– both in sound and collaborative process– early-60s Brill Building pop-song production”

Both, both, huh? I’ll live with just rolling my eyes at your shop talk, but I have a major bone to pick with your second paragraph, Stu. In the span of that ONE paragraph clocking in at less than 150 words, you mentioned 21 artists and bands. 21:

Gigi, Nick Krgovich, No Kids, Colin Stewart, Black Mountain, the Pipettes, Lucky Soul, Camera Obscura, Carl Newman, New Pornographers, Zumpano, Young and Sexy, Duffy Driediger, Ladyhawk, Veda Hille, Rose Melberg, Tiger Trap, The Softies, Karl Blau, Mirah, Owen Pallet

That’s a lot to keep tabs on in such a tight space. Look, I’m sure you’re beaming with pride after deciphering the connection between “soft-pop peers” of “Vancouver-scene mainstays,” but what you wrote reads like alphabet soup. If listeners are interested enough to want the complicated history of each band member and session contributor, then they can satisfy that urge with the liner notes and Google. Other folks might just want to know how you felt about the album you’re reviewing.

When that opinion finally comes, it’s in the usual castrated form of the third person making textbook observations:

“Driediger proves himself a surprisingly gentle crooner on the charming boys-do-cry serenade “The Hundredth Time”

“I’m Not Coming Out Tonight” channels its post-breakup desperation into a heavenly orchestral ascension”

How delightful! Sure makes me want to listen after I awake from this text-induced stupor. Stuart, I think your main problem is that you write about music as if it’s a social movement that took place in the 19th century. Reading through your jargon, I wouldn’t even know that you LISTENED to the music you’re describing. It could just as easily have been stitched together from a hundred sentence fragments you culled from search queries.

The Heat/Magic game just started, so let’s just skip to the conclusion and call it a night, okay? You need at least a decade to thaw out those balls.

“Still, as a paean to the past, Maintenant sounds right in the here and now– because for all their vintage dressing, Gigi are ultimately most interested in the bad romance that makes our present so tense.”

You know, Stuart, I call music critics “music lice” for several reasons, but few are more compelling than the closing sentences. I think it’s a slap in a band’s face when the writer can’t even use the word “I” in his opinion of their album, but he still cranks out that kind of self-absorbed chicken choke. It’s hard to read that closer after your mountain of academic slime and come to any other conclusion than thinking the only reason you’re writing about bands is to promote your name.

Well, let’s make it about you, Stu. Before you go, I’ve got one last request. A couple of people have objected to me doing this, but I really couldn’t resist. You might consider posting a picture of yourself where your eyes aren’t shifted to the 2:00 position over clenched lips. It looks creepy all lined up on Google. I fear for my liver.