I’ve been attempting to write some album reviews for the last 4 months. However I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Perhaps, dear reader, you can help me?
One of things I’ve been trying to avoid is some of the senseless, egocentric bullshit that I came to expect from Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and other printed media that I used to read when I was a teenager. Most of it was pure rubbish invented by hacks who, quite literally, would go off to a ganja filled office to dream up some hitherto unexperienced musical landscape to accompany the review of “Tales from Topographic Oceans” by Yes. Yeah Baby!
Nor do I want to produce the time-honoured, but completely overused metaphor: “Bastard Son of Thin Lizzy meets Lady GaGa at a trucktop owned by Acid Jazz freaks from the 1980s”. That said, the metaphour does offer the ready some idea what the music actually sounds like. Unlike some of the lines presented by some of the bands on this year’s Great Escape Festival Programme…
“The pick of the crop from this years Rotherham Rumble, this 5 piece give as good as they get. Expect the unexpected and then some more. They come from Leeds.”
WTF does this say about the music? What does it say about Rotherham or Leeds for that matter? More importantly it gave me and my compadres no idea what to expect to hear, and so I’m sure we missed some artistic gems. All for the sake of a little clarity.
So, what I’ve focused on so far is a description of the tracks – the musical genre, the vibe I get when listening, the track’s narrative (as I see it). Seems pretty obvious, innit! However it has been pointed out that a review should be more than just summing up the different tracks of an album, and should present some insight or analysis from the reviewer. For example….
“XXX… rings out as a cry from deep within for personal understanding and comfort. A rich tapestry of sounds is woven with a sense of abandonment and loss and the struggle to make sense of these feelings as they unfold for the listener.” Or…
“Each melody, much like the landscapes they represent, still holds the memory of a time when it thrived bountifully.”
These examples are taken from beautifully written articles, I agree, but the problem I have is that I’m none the wiser about the music. I’m still required to click on the “sample track” to make my own judgement. In the case of the above examples I was disappointed. For me, the music failed to live up to the message.
So, dear reader, what do you want from an album review? I want to learn how to do this properly, and unlike podcasting, it’s not “intuative” to me. Please make a comment below or drop me an email. What floats your boat?