Knifed & Spooned

Knifed & Spooned is a publication dedicated to the review of record reviews published on Pitchfork. Pitchfork reviews are each disseminated before being assigned a numerical value on an arbitrary scale, which we prefer not to divulge. Contributions are made by journalists, editors, established artists and readers like you. This site does not review records and should be viewed only as meta-commentary on a singular phenomenon of popular culture.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Review of Marc Hogan’s Review of Cold War Kids’ Robbers and Cowards 6.4

Do hipsters hate Jesus? I don’t know, but I see a lot of beards. Maybe the indie kids and groans just hate on social conservatism (while engaging in their own skewed version of it). So, when Wovenhand is singing reverent little ditties about Jesus, it’s just pretty, and when some boys start casting God as the leading social conservative in every district, it's obnoxious.

Hogan’s review of Robbers and Cowards reads like a list of disappointments. One third of the review reaches outside of the content of the record to take a couple of jabs at the bloggers that would give a band recognition that hadn’t been pre-ordained by big media and the curators of cool. Is the blogeratti breaking artists that sound like nothing we’ve heard before? Who is? I don’t see a pile of Tzadic releases getting reviewed anywhere outside of Wire and nobody is touting the brilliance of the Blue Meanies or Burnt Sugar. Instead we get the uniqueness of the Hold Steady (forget the record sounds like the Boss) or Tapes ‘n Tapes (which shouldn’t remind anyone of the Pixies). With 40,000+ releases a year, some familiarity may be unavoidable (if you try taking Lanzaframe out of my stereo, I'll chew your hand into a bloody mass).

But when Hogan delves into the sonic landscape that characterizes the record, the reader ends up entreated to the dreaded shorthand of listing other bands and vocalists. Forgive me, but I sincerely haven’t the slightest idea of what an “edgy Spoon jitterscape” entails. Nevertheless, Hogan touches on plenty of faults from needless tempo shifts to poor mastering, but by linking Robbers and Cowards favor of plodding narratives over more personalized songwriting the review resonates with what makes Cold War Kids' supposedly non-Christian Christian music unpalatable when compared to the more “idiosyncratic hymns of Sufjan Stevens and Jeff Magnum”. Here we have the root of Hogan’s review. The difference between inspired personal songwriting and conservative, preachy narratives are like the difference between being moved and being shoved.

--The Remedial Reader


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