23 November 2010

why album reviews should never go up to 10

so on Monday Pitchfork posted their review of Kanye West's latest album, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. and gave it a 10.0. I hadn't known about the posting until my PR friend S Tweeted about it, basically saying WTF?!?!? Clash Music followed suit almost, giving the album a 9/10 and the comment of "this is not just West’s best album, it’s a keen contender for the most ambitious LP in hip-hop history. West side story!" ummm...

let's go back to the Pitchfork review for a moment. IMO you can't give an album a 10. that would be assuming an album had achieved the sonic equivalent to Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10s in gymnastics at the 1976 Summer Olympics. in other words - it doesn't happen. personally, I don't think it's possible to write, record and produce a perfect album. there's always something. and what's that something? we're human.

there are several albums released this year that I absolutely love but I wouldn't be so easy giving out 10s to any of them. there's no doubt this album is going to top the charts for a long time, even without all these "accolades" (if you can even call them that) from online reviewers. but as a reviewer myself, I just have to shake my head in disbelief. you have to wonder what was going through the minds of the Pitchfork editors when they allowed a 10 for an album review to get through. I tell my writers that they're not allowed to give 10s to albums, for this one reason: perfect albums do not exist.

it wasn't until yesterday when the Guardian's Dorian Lynskey cut through all the crap and told it how it is, asking the important question, "have critics confused size, ambition and bluster for a genuinely brilliant record?" the best paragraph from the piece:

It's not even a creative breakthrough. West's already done contradiction on The College Dropout, triumphalism on Late Registration, celebrity angst (and unexpected sampling) on Graduation, and moping on 808s & Heartbreak. Now he's just doing them all at once, louder. And the creeping sense that he's had nothing new to say since 2005 becomes undeniable when, at the end of an album about West's adventures in celebrityland, he has to turn to a 1970 spoken-word piece by Gil Scott-Heron for some big-picture gravitas.

it is also obvious if you just look at the length of the Kanye piece that the author is a gusher. if you look at their review for Everything Everything's 'Man Alive', an album universally critically acclaimed in the UK yet Pitchfork gave them a 3.8 (highway robbery if there was ever a case), the Kanye piece is over twice its length. music reviewing will always be subjective. but please, keep the gushing to yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment