Band: EL VY
Album: Return to the Moon
Critic: Andrew Gaerig
Publication: Pitchfork, 2015
Writing Disorders: Scorn Disease, Ambiguity Sickness, Infectious Punctuation
Andrew, I’ll cut to the chase. This phrase summed up the beef that I had with your review:
“Absent his backing band’s grandeur, his poet-laureate-of-the-upwardly-mobile-schtick cedes way to a clever misanthrope in need of an editor”
Ugh. Do I have to say it? Do I honestly have to reprint that chubby phrase, point out the blubber, and then suggest that there’s some irony at play with all the subtlety of someone crapping his chinos in a library?
What the hell is wrong with you guys over at Pitchfork? Seriously, do you have any self-awareness, or is this shame-optional fetish now company policy? If calling the kettle black is the key to selling Omega watches and Montblanc cologne to a “very passionate audience of millennial males,” then props to Condé Nast for sniffing out that golden opportunity.
Whatever. So you’re saying this musician is in need of an editor. Fine. Let’s take a look at that suspension bridge of cleverness you engineered back there:
“his poet-laureate-of-the-upwardly-mobile-schtick cedes way”
Even setting aside my well-known revulsion for that style of writing, I’d still take exception because you managed to screw it up. You got so lost in your vinegar strokes that you hyphenated the noun that’s supposed to be modified by all that hyphenated crap. That IS the point of chaining words together like that, right? Unless you meant “cedes” as a noun, then I’d say you’re in need of an editor, Andrew. And if you did mean “cedes” as a noun, then I’d say you’re in need of middle school.
One more thing. Maybe I’m a clueless troglodyte, but I think there’s a reason that most people write the phrase “gives way” and not “cedes way,” because the latter suggests that something “gives up way” or “gives away way.” That sounds weird.
But speaking of your music review more broadly, I think it’s weird that you apparently haven’t the slightest concern about being guilty of the criticism you’re leveling at these musicians. You’re wagging your finger at other people’s walk down the road while doing a bowlegged jig with your pants around your ankles.
See, I figure that if you’re going to accuse someone of “word soup,” then you should probably use sharper phrases to make the point, not write things like “GQuaalude musings” or prattle on about “all-the-wine sloganeering,” whatever the hell that is. If you’re going to complain that certain elements feel like unnecessary filler, then I imagine you wouldn’t be keen on printing four (long) song names in a single sentence just to make the nebulous point about the duo being “noncommittal.”
That’s why you won’t see me abusing hyphens or parentheses when I’m criticizing other people’s writing, Andrew. Otherwise, how does criticism hold any worth if the person who’s sneering over another’s execution does the same damn thing himself? I don’t think you’re Stephen Colbert playing Bill O’Reilly here. I think you just can’t help yourself and you figure that no one’s going to cry foul.
Well, thankfully I have a fetish for crying foul, so let’s look at a few more things in need of an editor, Andrew. I’ll start out small with a couple of little warts:
I don’t know what’s going on with music writers lately, but last month I even saw the phrase “TV on the Radio-esque.” Doesn’t it strike you as the least bit confusing to hyphenate the second word of a compound proper noun instead of just writing that something “resembles Bryan Ferry” or that something else is “indebted to Greg Dulli”? You couldn’t cool down from the thrill of molesting these guys long enough to consider that there might be a cleaner way to frogtie them?
Then there’s the muddled opinion that you paraded around like hard facts in a murder case:
“And while there’s nothing here that suggests Berninger and Knopf are truly incompatible, there’s equally little evidence that Knopf’s spirited arrangements are suited to Berninger’s spotlight-gargling word soup.”
Andrew, let’s forget for a moment that there’s a wide gulf between “nothing” and “no evidence” in the realm of accusing folks of wrongdoing. I’m more curious about what kind of thing might “suggest” that these two fellows are “truly” incompatible. What even counts as “evidence” and “truth” in music criticism anyway? You’re not a chemist observing that argon won’t react with oxygen a thousand times over in quantifiable experiments. You’re someone listening to a piece of music and then complaining about it.
But since you were so focused on clever denigration, I don’t think avoiding conflation was at the top of your agenda. Here’s one last dopey phrase for good measure:
“Berninger, for all his magnetism, doesn’t help matters.”
Andrew, think about that for a moment. You’re saying that one of the founding members of this duo of two men “doesn’t help matters.” That’s like saying Oates doesn’t do Hall and Oates any favors. Weak.
Andrew, on the off chance you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’ve gotten hot and bothered. Well, I do hope that you channel the irritation into your work so that sometime in the distant future you might end up a more succinct prick. But if you’re hastening to argue instead that I’m a hypocrite myself, what with me being all mean to someone I pegged as a meanie, fine. I might even call that fair. But I’m going to quote you and say that “it’s probably unfair to compare” what we spend our time doing, Andrew. Well, till next time — ta-ta.