Album: They Want My Soul
Critic: Ryan Dombal
Publication: Pitchfork, 2014
Writing Disorders: Ambiguity Sickness, Purple Hemorrhage
Ryan, I had a plan. I was going to read your review from start to finish, then laugh, THEN go back and write down everything I thought was stupid. See, as an impatient younger man I’d just pluck out the hard brown nuggets as I went, saving them up in a pouch for later. But this being a new year, I wanted to give music lice the benefit of the doubt and read their reviews the way I’m sure they want (and expect?) the general public to do it: With unwavering attention and wholesale admiration for the prose until the astonishing conclusion. Then I’d swoon and offer you sex.
So…I got to the third sentence of the second paragraph before I cracked. That means I got nearly 24.8 percent of the way through before I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to make fun of it.
Your review was just awful. It’s awful like Brent DiCrescenzo’s glowing reviews were awful, because if a man’s baseline tendency is reflexive dislike, it makes describing something he DOES like reeallly awkward. And of course you’re writing about music, so silliness is bound to cut the booster and break orbit. Here’s the three-step process:
1. Music critic listens to record
2. Music critic classifies weird tingling in loins as “enjoyment”
3. Music critic struggles to write about the source of the loin tingling succinctly, so elects to do it in the goofiest, most detached way
I’m assuming the title “senior editor” at Pitchfork means you earned enough golden forks to scrap editing altogether and just cram your reviews to the brim with a pervert’s eye for airy fluff. So to save time I’m going to rewrite your review using ONLY your airy fluff. And this is just the Grade-A Certified Organic Airy Fluff, not the fluff you can get for a buck-fifty in the Hispanic foods aisle. And bear in mind it’s according to my made-up rubric — more on that later. First just read this stuff:
“It’s not the soul of indie idealists blindly conflating modesty and virtue. On their eighth album, they laugh in the face of leeches, defy gravity, suspend time. Theirs is an in-between soul happily seeking limbo as its own destination. It’s manly in an old-fashioned way, but still scuffed-up and vulnerable. It’s smart but not eggheaded, tough but not dumb. They Want My Soul is constantly negotiating with the memories that make up our minds, trying to decide if they’re traps or blessings. “Inside Out” finds submissive contentment amidst a drift that hints at eternity.”
Wow. If you really want to argue that all that crap makes SO much more sense in its proper context, feel free, and I’ll laugh some more.
Should I even bother asking WTF all those empty metaphors mean, or am I just supposed to read, cream my pants, then move on to the next fawning chain of words? Because I’ve heard guys baked out of their skulls give clearer appraisals of albums they’ve enjoyed.
Ryan, a common feature of a lot of sanctimonious “positive” reviews I’ve read, particularly on Pitchfork, is that they praise bands for going JUST far enough on the writer’s made-up rubric of greatness without stumbling into an equally made-up land of no-no’s, unforgiveable crimes, and other nasties. So, tell me, just how CLOSE did they come to being eggheaded? Were they one lyric shy? Were they one 4/4 song short of being dumb? Were they a minute of run-time away from conflating modesty and virtue?
And what are people to make of all this weird praise? Are we supposed to want to download this album because of the way the band defies gravity or suspends time? Why should I want to support them for their laughter in the face of leeches? Can I…tap my toes to it?
Ryan, in this day and age when everyone can be seen and just as easily forgotten, why are you still writing this kind of drivel? Where were you at when you listened to this album? What did the air smell like? Who were you with? What WERE YOU FEELING? These are the things that connect man to music, that make his memories endure into old age. I’m amazed that three years after I penned my last post, the kind of fluffy junk that got me started is still very much alive.
You know what it is?
“petty and irrelevant”
I’m afraid that’s what we’ve both become, Ryan.