Band: The Buggles
Album: Adventures in Modern Recording
Critic: Joe Stannard
Publication: The Quietus, 2010
Writing Disorders: Purple Hemorrhage, Idea Fever, Detachment Syndrome
Longest Sentence: 63 words
Stuffiest Phrase: “Roxy-esque themes of artifice and ennui”
Joe, most of what I read on The Quietus makes me want to watch old pro wrestling highlights just to counteract the website’s flowery poot sniffing. You really took it to another level here. I’m not even through the third paragraph and I’m already worried that YouTube clips of Ravishing Rick Rude won’t be enough to slow the poison. Look at your opening sentence:
“Never mind the rouged fops of 80s British pop, flouncing about like epileptic candyfloss stuffed into grotesque couture – let’s talk about the innovators, the auteurs, the dreamweavers.”
Okay…I wasn’t really going to mind that stuff in the first place, but whatever. I’ll roll. What’s next?
“I’m referring of course to the producers. Mike Hedges, Martin Hannett, Hugh Padgham, Steve Lillywhite and Martin Rushent can all claim to have played a part in shaping the sonic landscape of the 80s. But it was Durham-born hitmaker Trevor Horn who bestrode the decade like a myopic colossus, crafting pocket symphonies for Marc Almond, Grace Jones, Dollar, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Propaganda, Pet Shop Boys…”
Ugh. Look, I’m sure you eventually connect all this to the Buggles’ second album in some breathtaking way, but before I wade into that, let’s just see how long it took. Do you know how long it took for you to mention the name of that album? Any guesses? 458 words.
Joe, that’s a lot of words, so I’m thinking maybe I made a mistake. Before I make an ass of myself by ridiculing you for that level of excess, I’m going to take a quick look back at the heading so I can make sure this wasn’t titled “Densely-Packed Parade of Names from the 1980s.”
Phew, thought so. Joe, I realize The Quietus strives to deliver the longest, most viscous introductions in a field of writing full of them, but this is absurd. From the opening word to your first mention of Adventures in Modern Recording, you name 38 different people, bands, songs, and albums. Regardless of whether they’re related, dropping that many ideas in the road doesn’t make for the smoothest ride down history’s boulevard. It’s like naming 38 species of rodent in an article about a chipmunk before mentioning the chipmunk. I’m surprised you still had room for conjunctions and prepositions in there. By the way — capitalizing genres of music in a thicket of proper nouns doesn’t really smooth things out either. How do I know “Disco” isn’t an obscure British band that benefited from the craft of a “myopic colossus?”
When you FINALLY get down to talking about Adventures in Modern Recording, you don’t spare much vague prose:
“The opening title song, for example, loads synthetic and acoustic instrumentation upon a skullcracking rhythm, creating a mood which is simultaneously dreamlike and hyper-alert.”
Joe, one reason I find these labored descriptions of a band’s songs so stupid is that I fail to see the purpose. It’s one thing to describe a chase scene in The Transporter, detail a conversation between protagonists in a novel, or even outline the landscape in a Monet painting in writing. It’s quite another thing to write descriptions of music like this and expect a curious reader to build a replica in his head:
“the sinister faux jazz interlude”
“rigid, gridlike beats”
“a vast, crashing wave of melodic noise crying out for a Lindstrom-style expansion”
Those things mean next to nothing, Joe, and they mean even less buried in the cores of gigantic paragraphs. If you’re going to write a persuasive essay on music, don’t you think it makes sense to include some MUSIC in there somewhere? You know, maybe throw in a hyperlink or embedded clip for those brave souls who actually stick around to read your slush past the introduction? This is the Internet, after all. You can do that stuff, Joe.
When I finally reached your conclusion, I was expecting a prize of some sort or at the very least a warm meal and a beer for my perseverance. Instead, there’s this:
“We’ve established that Adventures is ahead of its time”
What exactly did I do to establish that, Joe? Oh, you meant you and another Quietus historian collaborated on this criminally tedious review and came to that conclusion? Where’s the shared credit? Are you trying to steal the fame and fortune offered for deciphering the perceived influence of a 29-year-old album on a Swedish electronica band? You cold-blooded…
Joe, my brain is already in danger of fusing into a cube after reading this piece of plastic, so I’m just going to take the antidote and be done. I think I can cut out the rant about the phrase “pop sensibility.” I’ll let you ponder that one. Beam me up, Rick.