The Best Albums Pitchfork Hated This Year

lana.jpg
Sorry Lana.No BNM for you.
Since Purity Ring, Death Grips and Tame Impala didn't exactly take off this year like Arcade Fire or Animal Collective, Pitchfork's cultural influence might be cooling off, which is bittersweet since their writer stable is probably better now than it ever was (some of us don't miss those novelty reviews), and their point-of-view has gotten less indie-elitist and more friendly to female artists, pop and r&b in particular in 2012. But the overarching editorial tastes still tend toward a certain narrative that so many artists do not follow, the whole "victory lap" adage, people ascending until their career crashes and burns, before a triumphant comeback. This sort of sensationalized trajectory really doesn't happen with most artists, who sometimes make good albums and sometimes make disappointing ones. And many artists who've stagnated or are on their way "down" still make more essential music than whoever du jour is on the rise. So here's a bunch of good records that Pitchfork missed the forest for the trees on. (Full disclosure: I've written there in the past. We didn't agree a lot. Also a few fellow Sound of the City people write there too, don't judge them based on my haterade.)

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David Byrne/St. Vincent - Love This Giant
Pitchfork rating: 5.9
What they said: "With precious few exceptions, neither Clark nor Byrne seems willing to push the other into new musical territory that might contain revelations about either. The songs merely stand apart from life and dryly comment on its strangeness."

Au Contraire: As someone lukewarm on St. Vincent and completely astringent towards Byrne's post-Talking Heads career, I'll definitely vouch for the falseness of that first part. The herky-jerky horn arrangements give Annie Clark an upright, marching urgency that her own albums lack (this year's Big Black-channeling "Krokodil" single also helped show she can do more than boring art-prog indie), and somehow she must've edited Byrne's songwriting into funky little nuggets again. The leadoff "Who" and oddly danceable "Lazarus" take rhythm ideas from tUnE-yArDs, while "The One Who Broke Your Heart" unabashedly recalls Buster Poindexter's '80s craze "Hot Hot Hot." That's not new musical territory? Giant is Byrne's best venture since Music for the Knee Plays, which was also horn-based. As for the dry comments on life, they have their moments, like Clark's gorgeous Occupy-inflected chorus for "Optimist": "I'm the optimist of 30th street/ How it is is how it ought to be."

s/s/s - Beak & Claw
Pitchfork rating: 4.8
What they said: "The downcast, emo-rap slam poetry he works in has a perilously high carnage margin, but he keeps from plummeting off a cliff here"

Au Contraire: As a huge Serengeti fan, I've gotta shut down that "emo-rap" claim right quick. Serengeti is a Chicago-based indie rapper who creates sitcom-like characters he raps as, most notably Kenny Dennis, a 40-ish suburban husband who loves non-alcoholic beer and the Bears. Maybe it's "emo" or "slam poetry" to work completely outside of the rubric typically associated with rap (drugs, money, swag blah blah), but more likely the involvement of Sufjan Stevens on this experimental one-off is the reason the reviewer signed on. So yeah, of course he keeps from plummeting off a cliff, he's goddamn Serengeti. This is one of four very good records he made this year.

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20 comments
ptgrw
ptgrw

@mariasherm #clickhate

Stevie Be
Stevie Be

In 1957 “Jingle Bell Rock” rocked its way to #1. Today “Boom Boom” by Maryse Letarte is going for the gold on Christmas. Isn't it time The Village Voice reviewed "Des Pas Dans La Neige"?

ColbySilon
ColbySilon

@LAWeeklyMusic @soundofthecity <<<< Couldn't agree more about Lana Del Rey.

alexbeebe
alexbeebe

Allow me to just say, this is the most ridiculously disrespectful article I have ever read from a professional news site. I can't believe you people actually wrote an article bashing another news site just because they have opinions different from your's. Everything about this article reads as if you people believe your opinions are absolute fact and that no one else can have a different viewpoint with different criticisms. This entire list basically calls Pitchfork out on simply having a different opinion than you guys, and then you essentially just say "well this is why I disagree and why you're wrong because my opinion simply cannot be wrong". We are all supposed to be respectful and accepting of everyone's opinions on music, even if they're different from our own, and you people at The Village Voice are setting a horrible example. You people are in a professional position as editors, and here you are acting like children by bashing Pitchfork for supposedly being "elitists" while you people are writing about how they're factually wrong because you disagree. You're acting like children. And I'm pretty sure the only reason you guys decided to call out Pitchfork specifically is because they have a reputation for everyone disagreeing with them. Way to go and jump on the bandwagon guys. Simply pathetic behavior.

Dan Albertson
Dan Albertson

Lana Del R... er Lizzy Grant... is awful. "Found nostalgia" at it's worst. Combining knock-off old movie soundtracks with meaningless lyrics isn't art.

Andrew Hershberger
Andrew Hershberger

Except Lana Del Rey's album really is garbage. I don't read Pitchfork and I think they missed the point on Big KRIT but the 5 point whatever they gave Lana's magnum of piss is actually too high.

samcmac
samcmac

@kissoutthejams whoa no way YOU wrote about lana? wut?! [just fuckin with you, good piece]

vandalsondwall
vandalsondwall

@richardbolisay Grimes' "Oblivion" a.k.a "Dayang Dayang" post-witch house, post-apocalypse remix. trolololol.

littlebanalities
littlebanalities

@alexbeebe "Allow me to just say, this is the most ridiculously disrespectful article I have ever read from a professional news site. I can't believe you people actually wrote an article bashing another news site just because they have opinions different from your's. Everything about this article reads as if you people believe your opinions are absolute fact and that no one else can have a different viewpoint with different criticisms."

Interesting take. Especially since, this is an opinion piece and there was no actual bashing involved - unless you consider presenting "a different viewpoint with different criticisms" to be "bashing." 

Please point out where there was explicit criticism of Pitchfork in this article. The writer wasn't attacking Pitchfork - they were offering  a different opinion and then explaining (thoroughly) why they thought what they did. 

There isn't any evidence of the "you're wrong because my opinion simply cannot be wrong" mindset that you mentioned. Unless you turn your head 180 degrees and squint while doing a handstand.

Though I do have to agree that Lana's album was..uh...underwhelming - for exactly the reasons stated above.

jjazznola
jjazznola

@alexbeebe I couldn't agree more. The writing and opinions at the Voice continue to go to new depths of absurdity. This was once a great paper. Those days are long gone. Now they'll let anyone write here. Pitchfork has every right to their opinions just like everyone else. I think they are narrow minded so I don't bother reading but I have nothing bad to say about them. Lana del Rey? Please!

vandalsondwall
vandalsondwall

@richardbolisay POPTIMIST too much! Not a fan of Grimes either, but there's something in that awful weirdness that interests me.

richardbolisay
richardbolisay

@vandalsondwall UGH DEFENDER. just to let you know, there is also nothing that sounds like Gangnam Style this year and it's a better song.

vandalsondwall
vandalsondwall

@richardbolisay Nothing sounded anything like Oblivion this year. It's painfully weird in a good way. Emphasis on the weird.

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