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, November 30, 2006

A Review of William Bowers’ Review of Swan Lake Beast Moans 2.9

Over the past few months, bloggers have stroked themselves into a frenzy over Swan Lake, and only validation from the “real media” is going to get the kids to toss their load. For those of you unfamiliar with Swan Lake, it’s a crime-fighting trio from Canada (like Alpha Flight but with better costumes and worse haircuts). Swan Lake is the indie-credible Dan Bejar (New Pornographers/Destroyer), Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes), and Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown), each pitching in the songs that weren’t up to the standard of their respective projects. Instead, each member contributes a few of these tracks in a somewhat non-collaborative fashion to the project. It’s like any herd animal that travels in numbers to evade predators. But will these three gazelles escape by the grace of indie cred alone?

William Bowers says “sure”. More importantly, he gives his approval with groan-inducing quips like “Beast Moans is no pornographer’s rubdown; it delivers on its tease”. It’s not unusual for Bowers to channel the imaginary or the irrelevant (“In the event that you are an anxious consolidator of last.fm stats trying to weed out fluke acts, you might switch "Swan Lake" to "Destroyer" in the artist-blank…”) and make an unintentional insight here and there (“A Venue Called Rubella as the title hints, plays like an outtake from Rubies).

His attempts at drawing from lyrical imagery manifest all of the grace of a morbidly obese ballet dancer with a glass foot. Beginning his lyrical dissection with a line so abysmal, it would graze the low bar set by most high school newspapers- “That great not-American source of American imagery, the Bible, is responsible for a shocking number of lines”, Bowers presses on only to admit defeat after scratching superficial surface.

In Bowers’ own words:

Pretending to discuss the lyrics is a sad surrender, though, because anyone attempting to decode them is going to lose the songwriters' rigged game of "guess which finger I'm holding up behind the tapestry."

One would hope that with a record that borrows so many of its themes from the contributors’ familiar and high-profile work that a little from the material lent it self to interpretation. Like any critic, Bowers has very particular taste, but unlike most critics, his reviews seldom approach or attempt fastidious interpretation. Instead, Bowers favors inane ramblings that occasionally make brief mention of how an album might actually sound. What is more important to a review? And why is that harder to find than a condescending tone toward readers, bloggers and artists in the average Pitchfork review? Where does all of the attitude come from? If you are an anxious consolidator of last.fm stats, try writing William Bowers or any other reviewer’s name in the artist blank. Do you know what will come up? Absolutely nothing.

-E. L. Eauface

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