Radiohead – NOT Reviewed
The whole world went Gaga last week, but now it’s lost its head for Radiohead. Yesterday, they released their new album: The King of Limbs, and loads of people dashed to the internet to download it, and dashed right back there again to post their reviews. You won’t find me giving my two-penneth on it just yet, because I think it’s a mistake to review an album, or any other piece of art, so soon after first experiencing it. You need time for things to sink in and for your opinions to form properly. You might also need to experience something a few times before you really get a feel for it and can write a worthwhile review.
With music, there’s the chance an album might sound good the first time through, but not be substantive enough to be interesting after that. On other occasions, you might not really ‘get’ an album during the first play, because it might take you a while to adjust to a new musical direction. However, in the world of blogs and social networks, critics don’t have the luxury of waiting before they publish their critiques.
I read the AV Club (for my sins) and they are absolutely notorious for praising every new album they review, to the hilt. Most albums seem to get an A minus grade…
Jeez, I’d hate to be in the one band that got a B plus. I’m sure these albums sounded great on first hearing, but can they all be just short of perfect? I dashed out to buy the most recent Neko Case album on the day it was released, in part because it got a high grade from the AV Club. I thought it was great for a while, but pretty soon stopped listening to it. I didn’t grow to hate it; I just found that a year had gone by without me listening to it. I’d imagine that was the same for a lot of other people, so can it really be worth an A minus grade?
I remember when Oasis released Be Here Now; pretty much all the reviews I read were something like: “Noel and the boys have done it again! It’s another masterpiece!” Of course, even Noel himself went on to admit that it wasn’t a good album. Either the reviewers didn’t take time to reflect on the album enough, or they felt that they had to give it a good review. I think a lot of professional music critics are under a lot of pressure to give positive reviews to bands like Radiohead, that have large and fanatical followings. American rock critic Jim DeRogatis, once gave a Paul McCartney album three out of four stars and he still incurred the wrath of Beatles’ fans. Upsetting the audience could mean they don’t buy your magazine anymore. I’ve known it happen with a friend of mine; he never forgave the NME for giving a one star review to Tenacious D’s first album. He wasn’t the brightest though.
I’m not immune from this way of thinking; sometimes I feel pressure to like certain albums, artists, or even whole genres. I never really took to The Strokes, but everyone else was into them, so I sort of forced myself into like them. It’s the same with me and films. Everyone raved about There Will Be Blood, and I got swept along with it. Only now, a few years later, can I admit that I don’t think it’s the masterpiece that everyone else thinks it is. One aspect of the film I didn’t like very much was the music. Who wrote that again? Oh yeah, that bloke from Radiohead.
Okay, so I’m not going to give my review of the music of The King of Limbs, but I do briefly want to talk about its distribution method. I have no problem with Radiohead releasing it as a download, but I do have a problem with the amount they’re charging. I think that £6-£9 is a lot for a digital product, considering that I can buy a physical product that has been created, stored, shipped and stacked, for less than that. Pretty much all of the £6/£9 will be profit for the band, meaning they should be in for a big payday. Maybe they’re compensating for the “pay what you like” scheme they did with their previous album. According to the NME: 60% of people paid nothing and the average amount paid was only £2.90. Serves them right.