Pitchfork sticks it to bands out of favour
THERE’S been one good review of the new Pain Funnel album. On the new and highly influential RD website, they give the band’s Love is dead and blind and dead an 8.1 rating. Not so lucky were Meloncholera, who only got a 2.1 for their Broken Sensitive work.
RD self-mockingly describes itself as “pretentious, unreadable crap”. But it’s the only port of call for those with an interest in such bands as Greyscale, We’re Loud and Sponge Parade. Obviously, some you might never have heard of: Abacus Horn Parade and Bobby Crosby and the Pumpkins, for example. But such is RD’s standing in certain quarters that they are the first to get a copy of the still-unreleased new Radiohead album.
It’s not difficult to see how they beat off the world’s media for this. They are huge Radiohead fans and they have only ever awarded a maximum 10.0 review rating to anything by Radiohead. So it’s another 10.0 for the new Radiohead release, Collectionanthropolopolisology. Some might find RD’s review of the work a bit fawning, but there’s no disputing the intensity of their love for the band.
“So how do I review such an inherently perfect, flawless recording?” they ask. “It would be unfair of me to simply state, ‘this CD is perfection in the literal sense of the word’, as that would not give such a masterpiece the sufficient praise it deserves. Putting this disc into your stereo and listening to it is like having the saints pee liquid gold into your ears. A beautiful, flowing, melodic wall of sound embraces you. Track 1, Ale A Gator, opens up with a lush field of melodic vibraphones and marimbas trumpeting the arrival of Thom York’s genius and a glassy string section envelops the sound.”
Unfortunately, you don’t get to hear about any of the other tracks because, as the reviewer puts it, “As for tracks 2-9, I was unable to listen to them as I was so blown away by Radiohead’s sheer power that I beat my CD player into pieces with a rake so it would never be defiled by another, inferior compact disc.”
RD stands for Rich Dork and is the best Pitchfork parody site going. There is now a growing anti-Pitchfork sentiment, simply because the site is seen as not only too influential, but also too verbose in its reviews and too easily dismissive of bands who don’t fit into a particular idea of good music.
A few months ago, Bill Baird from Sound Team (who only got a 3.7 review on Pitchfork) filmed himself putting a sticker of his band’s name onto a life-size dummy. He then stabbed the dummy with a pitchfork and set it on fire. He later posted the video and got a huge response from other disgruntled victims of Pitchfork’s reviewing policy.
To be fair, Pitchfork does give Rich Dork all the ammo it needs.
Sometimes you would be hard pushed to differentiate the “real” review from the parody. For example, the Pitchfork review of the Daft Punk album Human After All could also have been a Rich Dork review: “Ideally, the physics of record reviewing are as elegant as actual physics, with each piece speaking to the essence of its subject as deliberately and as appropriately as a real-world force reacting to an action.”
There are now plenty of rumblings about the “Pitchfork effect” – whereby a band, given favourable treatment on the site, suddenly find themselves elevated out of all proportion to their ability. Besides Rich Dork, there are other parody sites out there, as well as in-depth statistical studies of Pitchfork’s review history. Even the Sub Pop label has opened a war of words with the site.
Meanwhile, over at Rich Dork they have some breaking news: “Radiohead nominated ‘Most Influential Anything Ever’ by us.” Perfect.