Let's say I have a hypothetical friend who basically won't listen to albums when they're the subject of a critical frenzy. Thinks it's impossible to>"/>
Let's say I have a hypothetical friend who basically won't listen to albums when they're the subject of a critical frenzy. Thinks it's impossible to even really hear an album through that kind of noise. So right now, for instance, he has no stance on the new Tyler album (I do: briefly, I agree with those who think it's an overlong slog, plodding at times, with Tyler's unrepentant, trolling vileness inadequately leavened by his charisma, occasional good humor, and skill). He may not have really listened to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy until a few weeks ago, for all I know. Ironically, while he's not listening to these albums, he's keeping pretty well abreast of the critical discourses surrounding them, perversely subjecting himself to all the noise but denying himself any of the actual signal.
He does this, my friend, so that he can then come to those albums with fresh ears once all that noise has died down to form what he thinks will then be a purer opinion of the music itself. And that's where he and I part ways.
For one thing, I think it's useful to form an opinion about the music concurrent with forming an analysis about how it functions in culture. For another thing, I don't think you can ever come at something with pure ears, especially after watching its hype from afar for some months. Still, on some level I sympathize: It can be frustrating when an album you're excited about--and which everyone else is excited about--is surrounded by so much noise that you feel like you can hardly hear it. You start to wonder how much your reaction to it is really just wrapped up in your reaction to the chatter. So it's nice to revisit something after all the dust has settled and discover that you were right, that you still feel the same way as you did in the eye of the hype cycle.
That's what happened to me yesterday with Animal Collective's ridiculously praised to the indie rafters 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavillion. We all had a lot of laughs with the Pitchfork and the Hipster Runoff and the gifs and whatnot, and it's possibly that in all the hubbub we maybe, kinda, sorta lost track of the actual music, maaaan. For me, though, it's more that I think I paid great attention to the music, I just spun that proverbial record on repeat so many times that I frankly burned out on it for, like, all of last year. But damn if that album doesn't still--outside the hype cycle, after a little dormant period--just drip with awesome. Especially on some spring days like these. Adobe slabs. Never forget. That's all.