Album: S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor
Critic: Tom Breihan
Publication: Pitchfork, 2010
Writing Disorders: Infectious Punctuation, Jargon Palsy
Stuffiest Phrase: “it’s easy to admire the roiling conviction that makes the album go, but it’s a lot harder to love the actual songs that that conviction yields”
Tom, you’re one of those older music critics, so I don’t have any delusions about altering the course of your rotten writing. I’m just going to grab your crotch and twist without the pretense.
Usually it takes me at least two sentences to gauge how lame a review will be, but I didn’t even need to roam that far with yours:
“When Sufjan Stevens turned up in the credits to the self-titled 2006 debut from Norwegian fuzz-rockers Serena-Maneesh, it seemed pretty random — his fresh-faced orch-pop being about a million vibe-levels removed from their nodded-out lurch”
Tom, am I supposed to read this sentence or sing it out loud? There are so many little horizontal lines in your opening that it looks like Morse code at distances greater than three inches, with four hyphens in that last clause alone. That’s ridiculous. Two of those ionic compounds didn’t even NEED hyphens. Fuzz rockers. Vibe levels. You have a disorder.
Are you in cahoots with Jess Harvell, Tom? It seems like you both lack the gene responsible for choosing a different phrase instead of silly hyphenation:
“the icy-beauty thing”
Tom, none of those phrases requires hyphenation with the exception of “quasi-medieval.” That one’s right. Congratulations. You have a disorder.
I’d like to move away from hyphens for a minute so I can focus on some of your dopier arguments:
“the absurdly titled S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor”
How is that an absurd title? Do you have a rubric for determining whether an album name is worthy of favor? If you do, I’m not getting it. Not three weeks ago you reviewed an album named “Snakes for the Divine,” and there was no snide remark about that. Would it have helped if Serena-Maneesh enlisted Melvyn Grant to paint an actual abyss, or are you just more forgiving to metal releases because their fans are more likely to threaten to kick your ass?
I need to go to work soon, so let’s step away from the little things and move right to the splotchy rash of your main argument. It has to do with the word “Loveless.”
“This time around, Serena-Maneesh face down the Loveless challenge more directly and bravely than any of their neo-shoegaze peers”
“But the problem with any album that invites this many comparisons to Loveless is simply that it’s not Loveless”
Really, Tom? I figured the real problem might be music critics comparing every band that decides to use a digiverb pedal to My Bloody Valentine. It doesn’t seem like every new hardcore album gets compared to Damaged or every thrash release to Master of Puppets, but whenever a band decides to use the trem bar to strum distorted chords, it’s likely to be hammered for not living up to MBV’s second (and last) studio album. Who knows? Maybe these Serena people express their feelings best in a way that happens to sound like something else. I don’t think it qualifies as a made-up challenge to top another band’s release just because a writer can’t help but fall back on it to describe a band’s sound. That’s quasi-lazy, Tom.