For the most part, the critic really doesn't discuss methods. We just hear or read what they have to say without any concept of how they got to their conclusions. This would be great if you're working for the NSA, but when your review starts off with something like this -
"Post-hardcore is a slippery genre. If emo is commonly defined as "we know it when we hear it," maybe post-hardcore is "we know it when we can't hear anything after hearing it." But that's too easy; lots of music is loud. Maybe post-hardcore is what happens when people who are into hooks and melodies get into heavier styles like punk, metal, and hardcore. Post-hardcore kids listen to classic Metallica and hear the melody beneath the mayhem, the pop in the apoplexy. They listen to emo and imagine what those wobbly arpeggios would sound like with some real balls in the dynamic shifts, some buffness in the chordage."I am left scratching my head and wondering why this person even listens to music. Genre is nice for trying to find a CD at Borders, but too much obsession with genre and subculture obscures the music. It also makes you sound like a huge tool.
So, to lift the curtain and give you some incite into my thought process, here's what I aim to do when I sit down and write up a critique.
- Each album should be listen through from first song to last song at least twice. Given that typically the artist or band doesn't arbitrarily put tracks on the album, respect should be given in both the order and number of times to which I listen to the album.
- Comparisons to other bands should be used sparingly, if at all. We live in a world of "if you like this, listen to that" thanks to Pandora and other music services. It doesn't benefit the reader for me to compare someones hard work to the new Muse album. In fact, it does more detriment to the work and the artist. Everyone has influences, but they're what gets you to where you are today and are completely irrelevant outside of an interview or a historical examination. If I compare anything at all, I try to compare the album to the previous works of the band or artist.
- Be honest and brutal, but no rating systems. If things don't work on the album, it needs to be communicated. Putting a points system in place not only makes the critique easier to pass over, but also degrades my own integrity. I'm not handing out ribbons or trophies, so there's no need to make people feel like they're the top dog at the local kennel club show.
- At the end of the day, it's just my opinion. A critique is just what I happen to feel sitting down and listening to whatever is in front of me. Unless you have my same musical taste and background, what I say could be completely irrelevant to you, the listener. Critiques are more of a cliff notes guide for someone who has no experience with an album. It isn't the final answer as to the validity of the music. Everything should be taken seriously until otherwise proven.
At the moment, gonna scrape some buckage together to review a new release by Richard Def and the Mos Pryors. Probably coming later tonight, so await it with bated breath. Also, to keep everything on the level, the excerpt was from Brian Howe's review of Terrorhawk on Pitchfork.