A Thought On Music Criticism and MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

I'm gonna try a different approach to constructing this then last time. Bear with me.

The worth of a music review has always been questionable to me. Is it useless? Maybe. For one, even though I recognize that personal taste is a worthy factor, I think there is music that is, in an absolute way, just good. Taste plays a part in whether you like something or not and in how many spins you give it but in a number of cases I do not believe it affects whether the music is good or not. I can't remember when I last gave Lou Reed's Transformer some needle time but I know its a brilliant record. That's ok. If you dislike OK Computer its fine, but if you think its a bad album then you are missing something.

That being said I think that MOST of the music that comes to prominence with in the independent or serious rock worlds is good. This of course does not hold true with in the worlds of commercial rock or pop, though there is a small amount of worth that can be found there. But critics can't go around giving four and five star reviews for most serious albums without being accused of lack of opinion. So in order to be opinionated a good amount of either make definite boundaries on their tastes and curse everything outside of it or they condemn albums almost randomly and for very little reason. After all, hating music is way cooler then liking music.

I'm not typing this to just bash on other music reviewers, I just want to say a little bit about my intent. I cannot speak for the other reviewers here but I am not going to give very many negative reviews. I don't think you need to be told that My Chemical Romance's latest sucks. And I'm not gonna seek out some tiny band to tell you they're crap. Why do you need to know that you shouldn't listen to them if you wouldn't even have heard of them other wise? The only time I will give a negative review is when there are factors that would lead you to believe a stinker would be worth buying. Not just an album to avoid but an album you might not know to avoid otherwise. Otherwise I will try to keep my tastes as wide as possible.

Now, the review:

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
2008, Sony/Colombia Records, Brooklyn NY (originally Middletown CT)

I was duped. Perhaps I should know better then to fall prey to a hype band but to be honest I've liked most hype bands in the past. I find most of the people who are very down on band that came to prominence this way are more down the media raving then the bands they're raving about. But MGMT also came with more. Recommendations from two respectable friends as well as spots opening for both of Montreal and Beck, how could they be anything but great? So maybe I didn't do the kind of research I usually pull, didn't read what my favorite sites say, but shouldn't that cut through it all? So I put down the fucking money for this CD. Judging music the first time through is suicide, especially when listening while riding through a loud subway tunnel. OK, I tell myself, this could be nice and catchy. I'm sure on listening to it more I'll see what I'm missing.


It took me two weeks before I came to my decision. No, I was not going to warm up to it. Yes, my friend had mislead me. Yes, that money could and should have gone to that Portishead CD I was eyeing, it should have gone to anything else for that matter. Fuck. I felt betrayed.

This is irony. This is music for hipsters containing everything you would think the indie would should hate. Grandiose, apathy, bad funk, cheesy electronica, trow away lyrics, major labels. All for the sake of irony. Not that there isn't precedent for their sound. Beck and of Montreal are key touch stones but they don't do it like this. I don't know. Citing bands influence doesn't seem very helpful to me.

Don't get me wrong, there are some ups. Mostly the singles. Time To Pretend and Kids are choice cuts from it. If I could return this and pick up those as A and B on a 7" I would in an instant. I don't know what else to tell you. Perhaps bad reviews should be shorter then good one because the music didn't affect me in any notable way and thus there's not much to talk about.

And of course, its largely possible that I just missed something.

1. Time to Pretend
2. Weekend Wars
3. Youth
4. Electric Feel
5. Kids
6. 4th Dimensional Transition
7. Pieces of What
8. Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
9. Handshake
10. Future Reflections

i'll move to paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars

No comments:

Post a Comment