Sunday, April 05, 2009

The weight of expectation

Hush hush, here comes another meta-criticism post.

A couple of weeks ago, while in a puckish mood and online, we made comments on our Twitter against two new albums that were the talk of assorted online communities, namely the Horrors' Primary Colours and Dan Deacon's Bromst, neither of which we'd heard a note of. Even if our cudgels taking up was driven by being in an odd, combative mood we had our reasons - Deacon's Spiderman Of The Rings annoyed the shit out of us, far too fast and ADHD wacky-tricky for the sake of it, and given the way his community went for that one he seems unlikely to have turned his back on it (and it's telling that every piece of positive press about it feels obliged to state it's "better than Animal Collective", because there have only been two albums released this year, and after all those AC boys, they've sold out, haven't they?), while the Horrors' comeback had become so mired in forensic review and fevered hype all couched in terms taken from a flick through the big boys' book of avant-references it had already started to feel like the writers were trying to convince themselves as much as us. Now, we've since been sent a Primary Colours promo by lovely lovely 4AD - we're not totally sure it's not a coincidence, but we do note we've not received a similar advance of the new album on the same level by a band we've fervently championed in the past and present (My Maudlin Career).

Such preconceptive doubt - a well respected London promoter quite rightly chided us in response with "Nice to see people approaching stuff with an open mind" - is in quiet contemplation interesting. Much as we now have available to us more music than ever before, how much of it can we honestly approach with no malice or promise aforethought? With information available literally at our fingertips and opinion, received and otherwise, floating around the communal stratosphere of the internet community, can we ever come to something fresh? There's always this thought that some kind of satellite peer pressure means we have to love this or that album or new band, we have to agree that Unsigned Band X's Myspace is unbeatable, and it's becoming harder to find little nooks and crannies for ourselves where the real jewels sit largely undiscovered. It's all part of the modern hype machine, we know, but when you find yourself, as we have, really attempting to like Crystal Stilts because plenty of your forebears do (still don't get it) or actually being worried that Veckatimest might not be the album of the year after all the love we've exerted towards the Cheerleader giveaway and the tracks they let loose live last year, things have reached a pretty pass. Is the reactionary the pariah, or can you really still just chance across anything any more and fall for it without having a hundredweight of other people's recommendations overhead?


Robin said...

Great piece. There is no doubt that our environment influences us, and to have totally unique thoughts and opinions is virtually impossible... such thought processes belong to very few (just in the same way that it is virtually impossible for an artist to produce a totally unique piece of music... as every note and every sound has been made before.) However don't let it stop you trying. When you come to listen to something search your own heart as much as you can. Ultimately you can only like what your brains tells you it likes.

PS: I don't rate the Crystal Stilts either !

The Daily Growl said...

So I heard all the Horrors hype and started listening to the promo with an open mind like I'm supposed to, right? And it all starts off quite promising, and is getting to be sounding pretty good. Then the vocals start, and... oh dear...

How often is your gut reaction exactly the right one?