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Monday, September 12, 2005
A brief question: when people not otherwise familiar with my writing call my reviews "snotty" or "smug" or something along those lines (as has happened with the recent Geoff Reacher and Modern Skirts reviews), is that because the tone is actually snotty/snide/snarky/smookpareles[1], or because I make positive comparisons to pop songs that they're taking as being ironic but which I actually mean sincerely? I just have a hard time seeing much snot in either of those reviews (negative criticism, sure, but not snotty negative criticism), or indeed in most of the reviews of local bands I do for the F-Pole; if anything, I'm overly generous, much more willing to chalk elements I dislike up to personal preference than objective badness and admit the evident hard work and/or reasonability of other people liking said elements--and it's striking that in both of these cases I haven't wholly disliked the CD at hand, just some of it, which is a pretty common occurance for any listener, I'd think--than I would be with a more broadly-known band. Besides oversensitivity, the only thing I can think of, partially because it's been highlighted in criticisms I've received of those reviews, is that I made a pop comparison that I meant as a compliment that they took as a backhanded insult.

Along those lines, here's a question: if you have critical tastes that generally fall outside the indie-listener mainstream, do you have a responsibility to convey this caveat in everything you write, or should you just forge ahead? I got tired of writing "I like pop!" in my Flagpole reviews a few months ago, as it fucks with my wordcount and seems dishonest. Still, reviews are all about communicating, and I would like to avoid giving people the wrong impression as much as possible, i.e. if there is a band I like do I need to add "and I mean that in a good way!" when I make Justin comparisons? Or should I just avoid such comparions entirely and use "like early-period Smiths" as my universal indicator of quality? And see how long it would take for someone to notice it, or for Chris to start just editing it out every time I use it?

(This blog post has been brought to you by me avoiding work.)

[1] This isn't actually a word, but could be, don't you think? It would mean something much like the others, but with a more highbrow connotation.