Sam Donsky’s review of “Broken Bells” by Broken Bells

Broken Bells

Band: Broken Bells

Album: Broken Bells

Critic: Sam Donsky

Publication: Cokemachineglow, 2010

Writing Disorders: Idea Fever, Jargon Palsy, Ambiguity Sickness

Stuffiest Phrase: “a perfectly bland distillation of the formula that I had long since recognized but never quite grasped”

Irony: “the sort of thing you almost wish would just hurry up and be shitty”


As some of you may have noticed, I read a lot of terrible music reviews from a great many sources. But some of those publications produce greater heaps of junk than others, and Cokemachineglow occupies its own tier altogether. I’m still not sure whether the whole site’s a gag or if it’s dead serious, but from what I’ve tolerated long enough to read, it seems like a place where writers burn time on the way to becoming serial killers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brent DiCrescenzo himself taught many of the writers how to wank.


Sam, I think you went with the wrong title on your thousand-word turd here. “Record Review: Broken Bells” doesn’t accurately portray most of the content of your article. First off, you didn’t even mention the band’s name over the course of eight bloated paragraphs, and it took you nearly 400 words to drop the album title. What was so important that pushed those useful details to the back burner? Well, let’s take a look:


“Infinity will have to eat itself and then regenerate with a third arm and then lift weights with those three arms continuously until the sun collapses before there can exist a quantity commensurate with how much I used to love iTunes Celebrity Playlist”


“I used to fucking love iTunes Celebrity Playlist”


“if you had asked me six months ago to name the definitive commonality on the iTunes celeb circuit, I would have said it’s a tie”


Sam, if it takes you three paragraphs to tenuously connect one thing to another, you might want to go back to the drawing board. I honestly had no clue where you were going with that “introduction” until I reread the third paragraph and finally noticed an angle. So really the whole point of that stupid parade of half-sentences was to eventually name two songs by The Shins and Gnarls Barkley? Maybe you could have reached that staggering insight in one sentence instead of 23. Your intro was like an hour-long Ovaltine joke.


My eyes rolled so far back in my head that I could see my brain when I read this, but I think I’ve recovered enough to continue. I’m ready to be dazzled, Sam, so hit me with your best shot. Fire away.


“Almost everything sags into the same, slow-grooved alterna-template, a least common denominator of half-hooks and atmosphere and faux-space-age slickness”


America’s universities really need to start giving out failing grades in English courses if only to prevent that kind of nonsense from escaping. Let’s move past your infectious punctuation for a moment so you can answer me one thing, Sam. What exactly is LEGIT “space-age slickness? Do you have a machine programmed to pull things out of your ass, or do you still do it the old-fashioned way? If there’s any template at work here, I’d say it’s you writing like every other music critic with little regard for an audience. Speaking of ass-pulling…


“the triumph of essence over absence”


“new dope presented in the clothes of an old reputation”


“most certainly rep-able, it’s not ambiguous in the least”


Wow, does that vague BS come with fries? Even when you were merciful enough to offer an explanation of those empty phrases, I still had no clue what you’re talking about. In the future you might consider asking someone to edit down your work so it’s A) readable, B) interesting, and C) inconclusive proof of mental illness. Maybe you could ask these guys:

Sam, I did notice that you’re the recipient of a poetry prize, so maybe prose just isn’t your strong suit. But after trudging through to the end of this abomination, I’m still left with a burning question. Who actually reads this stuff besides me?

5 thoughts on “Sam Donsky’s review of “Broken Bells” by Broken Bells

  1. Oh goody, I’d like to hear WillBright/Space Ghost’s response to this.

    “the triumph of essence over absence” is worthy of Pitchfork. Perhaps Sam should switch over.

  2. No, I think Matt’s spot-on with this one. Doing what he does best–attacking crap self-important writing in a hilarious way.

    When I get irritated/bored is when he overdoes it on the cheap shots or irrelevant shit.

  3. I thought it was a fine, engaging review, even if I like the album. You’re not exactly a great writer yourself, you know, with phrases like “My eyes rolled so far back in my head I could see my brain, but I think I’m okay to continue into the body of the review”. That is truly writing on par with the worst criticism.

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