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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Review of Peter Macia’s Review of Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come 7.2

I wasn’t sure if there would be another review. On November 20th, 2006, I retired. But after 9 days, I’ve become tired of retirement. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do. Granted, I’m a fucking phenomenon in the arena of critiquing critical review. I’m the reviewers’ reviewer- the word after the last word. That can be tiring. Not just for you, but for me too.

If my hyperbole makes your stomach sour like chunky milk and olive loaf, than what do you think of the criticism sandwich Peter Macia serves up on Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come. Everyone knows how to make a criticism sandwich. Pretend the new Jay-Z record is an underwhelming pile of languid productions and lethargic rhymes devoid of any content worth a crumb from anyone’s stinking ass. Just pretend.

Now, saying this could be potentially unfashionable, and incur the slings and arrows of Jay-Z lovers everywhere. Less likely, Jay-Z’s feelings would be sincerely hurt and he’d have no recourse but to dry his eyes on a fistful crisp bills. By piling on some flattering words and grand overstatement for the self-proclaimed Jay-Hova, a hostile rebuttal is effectively sidestepped, even at the expense of scuttling Macia’s most insightful moments.

My personal favorites:

Twice he addresses his recent heavily publicized boycott of Cristal champagne which even he acknowledges is unimportant. But that's Kingdom Come: Jay boringly rapping about boring stuff and being totally comfortable with it

and more notably:

He thinks he's going to save hip-hop and New York City with his triumphant return, and maybe he might. But it won't be because he shouldered their burdens; it'll be because he shrugged and someone else carried the weight.

Macia’s opening paragraphs feel like a misguided attempt to sate fans who are likely as disappointed (if not more) with “dozens of uninspired stretches and misguided rants” instead of the anthems comparable to those that earned him accolades in the first place. If his editors had just axed the first two ball-cupping paragraphs, Macia’s review would retain some ballsy sincerity.

-Dan

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Review of Stephen Troussé’s review of Jarvis’s Jarvis 4.4

It’s not easy being relevant. It’s probably safe to assume the alternative is no easier. Jarvis Cocker is probably referenced at least once a month in a ‘fork review, which is more than Albarn, Coxon or any of the dudes from Menswear manage. Troussé doesn’t blow any more hot air into Cocker’s inflated status, but finds fault with the following:


1. Opening a record with an instrumental.

Apparently, Cocker should stick to writing 6 minute synth driven lyrically rich ditties about profound subject matter like a song called “Underwear”, written so women will throw their underwear at him.

2. It isn’t 1991.

It’s 2006, and Cocker’s still here (kinda). Everybody knows that artists are supposed to go to the shores at thirty and walk into the sea with their mouths open into the salty embrace of death. If Cocker insists on continuing to make records, he should just reprise Separations over and over and over…

Troussé writes “What awaits the disappointed romantic, when he concludes that life isn't elsewhere, is the evil of banality... and maybe the banality of evil.” Cocker in 2006 is a disappointed romantic. Whether Troussé is touting the promise of “Quantum Theory” or “Big Julie”, his hand is revealed as that of the listener looking for the optimistic romantic of 1991. Troussé’s review reveals little more than which romantic he prefers. For my enjoyment of the record, his preference is irrelevant.

-- Dan

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A dialogue between two Neanderthals on an indie messageboard regarding Tom Breihan’s Review of the Evens’ Get Evens 4.7

Grargh: Fugazi loud.

Thok: Evens still quiet.

Grargh: More Fugazi?

Thok: Maybe no more Fugazi… but new Evens.

Grargh: But Evens quiet. Want new Fugazi!

Thok: No!

Grargh: Want the Argument again?

Thok: We argue now.

Grargh: No. Want Fugazi!

Thok: Shhhh! Evens!

--Two Neanderthals (in the employ of the Village Voice and the Chicago Reader respectively)