I’ve been reading and reacting to Pitchfork’s reviews of new music since the site first appeared. And in general, it’s helped me find some great things with only a few misses along the way (I’m sorry but Grizzly Bear is unlistenable and the Fiery Furnaces is not actually even music). But overall, it became my favorite discovery site and was pretty spot-on for a long time.
And now, well, now it seems like they’re pretending to like things just to out-douche the other hipster music sites that have sprung up to challenge them.
Let’s take their 9.0 review of the new Swans record. It sounds like it might be the worst thing ever recorded in history based on their own review of it: A miserable 58-year-old man who was once in another band no one ever heard of comes out of retirement to make a two-hour record that aims to punish the listener. That sounds great! And Pitchfork gives it a 9.0 just to be too cool for everyone else who ostensibly doesn’t get it.
Some excerpts from the review:
Frontman Michael Gira once compared being in the band to “trudging up a sand hill wearing a hair shirt, being sprayed with battery acid, with a midget taunting you”– a description that could just as easily describe listening to them.
Beauty and ugliness have never been as relevant to their music as the possibility of turning music into a space of confrontation. In the parlance of reality television, Swans aren’t– and never have been– here to make friends.
With the exception of some amplifier distortion, the album puts incredible emphasis on the human body’s capacity to beat the shit out of an instrument in a far more satisfying way than machines ever could. (As an instructive gesture, Gira spends the first four-and-a-half minutes of “Mother of the World” panting in rhythm.)
On “A Piece of the Sky”, Gira sings that “the sun fucks the dawn.”
This all begs the questions, “does Pitchfork actually even like music anymore?”
I wouldn’t bring this particular review up if it weren’t so endemic of lots of what they’re doing lately. Their “Best New Music” section used to feature the actual best new music, now it’s stacked with a running list of trial and tribulation records you have to put yourself through and pretend you like in order to re-affirm your cool cred each week.
Hope they cut this shit out before I we all switch to Consequence of Sound for good.