Patrick Sisson’s review of “Speculation” by To Rococo Rot

to Rococo rot

Band: To Rococo Rot

Album: Speculation

Critic: Patrick Sisson

Publication: Pitchfork, 2010

Writing Disorders: Ambiguity Sickness

Clumsiest Phrase: “neither over-intellectualizing nor over-sentimentalizing”



Patrick, how long did you spend writing this review? Thirty minutes? Fifteen? Did you actually listen to the whole album, or did you just skim a couple tracks so you could catch “Goldberg” and still type something out before your deadline? You might as well have just written two words and been done: “It’s looser.”


You see, Patrick, by virtue of my time as a music louse, I know when a review’s half-assed. There were times when procrastination left only a few hours before a deadline to listen to a band’s work of art and write something about it. Then the BS would start flowing to fill in the cracks. I think you know what I’m talking about. There’s enough go-to music jargon in your review to fill a reference manual. Ahem…


“a sense of immediacy”


“plenty of propulsion and muscle”


“growing sense of looseness”


“an organic element”


“a real sense of play and exploration”


I’m starting to think “sense of immediacy” is the equivalent of “um” in music writing, while “sense of urgency” is “uh”. Since I still don’t know what the hell it really means, I’ve opened up the topic for discussion on the RipFork Facebook page. Feel free to add your input, Patrick. Going back to your jargon though, here’s my favorite bit of feathery insulation:


“they know how to finesse electronic timbres and human melodies, neither over-intellectualizing nor over-sentimentalizing their songs”


That’s a pretty blanket statement, Patrick. Do you think maybe you could have provided us a frame of reference by naming a couple of guilty musical peers, some lyrics, or even a definition of what “over-intellectualizing” would be? Right now I’m picturing this band as somewhere between Neutral Milk Hotel and Meat Loaf. Is that close enough, or should I go with The Decemberists and Bryan Adams?


Before you get to asking why I can’t push myself to act less willfully retarded, rest assured that some of your points just don’t make sense:


“To Rococo Rot’s skill lies in making electronic-infused post-rock engaging where most other bands fiddling with sculpted synths and cyclic bass lines settle for crafting something tasteful.”


I don’t get it. Does To Rococo Rot make music about exploding monkey dicks while others “settle” for songs about quiet tea parties and afternoon croquet? I don’t understand how “tasteful” and “engaging” are mutually exclusive like you’re suggesting here. Mr. Phil Collins has handily proven time and again that a musician can make music both tasteful AND engaging. I think you’ve got your antonyms mixed up.


At least your lazy review was short, Patrick, so I’m going to wrap this up in honor of that achievement. But I will say in closing that if you need any further evidence pointing to a rush job, just remember you wrote the word “fiddling” twice.  Ouch.

5 thoughts on “Patrick Sisson’s review of “Speculation” by To Rococo Rot

  1. You’d think Pitchfork, of all critics, wouldn’t use music cliches or trite language. Would have expected more hyphens and inane metaphors.

    They’re varying it up!

  2. Pingback: TERRENCE

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