I am not a music reviewer. I am a fan who likes to blether shite about new releases and gigs I’ve heard and have something to say about. I am not a professional. I am media graduate and a student of the music industries.
So here’s the problem. It’s hard to slag. I’m an amateur (at best), with little audience and I don’t rely on being first to a story, nor do I rely on hits generating income through associated advertising revenue. That said; I do care.
Today what I care about (vehemently) is the treatment of ‘The Next Day’ the new album by David Bowie. You can read reviews by the likes of Alexis Petridis, Andy Gill and Neil McCormick right now. That’s right, full album reviews up of an album released hours before, with no promos released (to my knowledge) and no announcement. So these professional journalists have reviewed this album in what? One or two listens? Maybe they listened to the single three or four times. Y’know, just to be sure.
That’s not an album review. An album, any album, deserves more than that. I can understand fans doing it; it’s exciting when something new turns up that excites you and you want to share your thoughts. It is generally accepted that these thoughts are just that, thoughts for the moment – they’ll change as you and an album grow together or grow apart. We see these all over blogs and message boards and I read them all the time and I love them. It’s people engaging with music, sometimes in the actual moment of listening.
But a professional review, with stars and everything is different. The speed of these reviews isn’t about engagement with the music, excitement at a new release or even just a childish ‘FIRST!’ This is about fishing for hits. But fishing for hits by racing to be first is like fishing for fish with a grenade. It’s not part of the game – it’s survival. It’s no longer about the enjoyment, or even the consideration, of music. That’s why I don’t trust the reviews of hungry music critics. They’re so hungry they can’t see what’s on their plate.
That being said, here’s my review. I’ve not actually heard the album yet but I’ve heard ‘Where Are We Now?’ about six times, and I listened to ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ once, half-distractedly, earlier today.
It’s not ‘Low’, is it?