In a hilarious new post on MBV, Pitchfork's Ryan Catbird laments the pickle they've gotten themselves into with the new Grizzly Bear album, Veckatimest, which hits record stores next Tuesday. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the album leaked over two months ago and has been gaining steady, almost unconditional support from practically everyone who follows new music. Catbird gives us the breakdown:
Here’s the rub: by busting out of the gate this year with that 9.6 for Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, they’ve created a situation where it’s going to be virtually impossible to rate an album above 9 without drawing a direct comparison to Merriweather.
Look at what we've gotten ourselves into. It's a telling problem for current web-gods and tastemakers like Pitchfork. Has popular music criticism always been this contrived, this full of posturing? Probably, but with the internet, it's reached a new level of absurdity. I've always had issues with Pitchfork's rating system. That decimal place drives me nuts, but at least now we have an instance where it's clear why they use it. Damn that Merriweater Post Pavillion! It's caused so many problems.
I'd like to say that Grizzly Bear doesn't deserve this. The music should speak for itself, but these days it often doesn't. Cokemachineglow just offered their review of Veckatimest, in which the writer falls on reactions around the office to contextualize his evaluation. Everyone, it seems, is already bored with it.
Even around the CMG watercooler there are at least as many dissenters as there are proponents. Veckatimest, you are boring Conrad. Chet said “snooze.” Somebody called them “Grizzly Bore.”
Pop music has always been inextricably linked with novelty, but contemporary critics especially seem consumed by this search for the "new" and it bugs me a little bit. I suppose I'm as guilty as anyone, but if I may... Sometimes I think I'm living in an age that privileges the "debut" and has a built-in hostility toward bands with any longevity, artists who actually want to grow and evolve.
Rants aside, I've been saving myself for next week's release. Ever since the follow-up to Yellow House (my favourite album of 2007) was announced, I've been giddy.
Speaking of Grizzly Bear, keep your eyes peeled for the next issue of Stylus, which features an interview of the band by UMFM's Jeff Friesen, host of "It's Okay, We're Lo-fi." I nearly got to do the interview, but Jeff beat me to the draw.