Friday, April 17, 2009

Some People Ought to Be Spanked

I started going apeshit for Franz Ferdinand's new album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, somewhere around the 3rd bar of attitude that came dripping out of "No You Girls." Even though it kills me that there's very little here that Roxy Music wasn't doing in 1975, at least someone's doing it and trying to move forward instead of spinning their wheels in Guyville.

Not ten minutes ago I picked up a Paste, saw their review and had a major 'WTF alternate universe is he in?' moment:

But it's been a long time since a band as good as Franz Ferdinand made a record as appalling as Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Truly, the four dapper Scotsmen that constitute this group should be ashamed of their tuneless, thoughtless, meaningless new offering, which distorts the proud legacy of a band that once mattered.
What makes the album so bad? Is it the leering vocals? The uninspired melodies? The horrific production, which cranks the sound until it's literally painful to the ears?

Dude. What've you got against, you know, dynamics?

I try to not intellectualize music anymore; it's not worth it to spend ten minutes - let alone two hours - ripping my hair out to articulate why something is good when I can just sing along to it or shake my ass, you know? It moves me or it doesn't. It throws me up against the wall or it doesn't. And the biggest problem with pop music in 2009 is that very few people who have access to distribution and promotion channels care to move anyone anywhere except in the direction of the bank.

Not only do I disagree vehemently with the Paste review, I also think it contains the most childish shots I've ever seen a creditable magazine take at an artist. It looks like something a pretentious message board user with no sense of self-discipline or restraint would post. Is this what professional journalists must devolve to, to get attention from online users? Imitate the worst of them?

And I love that Island Records' founder Chris Blackwell, no less, took enough exception to comment:
Much of what goes into determining great art or great music can be dismissed to taste and preference. In that regard I disagree with Nick Marino’s review on all accounts. Lucid Dreams, in particular, is not a mistake but a song that shows a band that is willing to take a risk and trusts that their fans are loyal enough to take that risk with them and that in the end will be glad that they gave the song a second listen. My primary concern with Mr. Mario’s review, however, is that it is ill-informed. Franz Ferdinand is neither lazy nor confused. The recent documentary of the recording of Tonight shows the time, care, and intentionality that went in to the recording of this album. The sounds that Mr. Marino chalks up to “horrific production” are part of a profound recording process that the band purposely used to create the sounds they wanted and that added to the meaningfulness of the song. I encourage all your readers to watch the documentary and give Tonight a second listen. Too often, we are so use to “instant classics” that we do not recognize true depth, inspiration, and greatness when we see it. In a few years we will look back on Tonight and say, “That is when Franz Ferdinand gave birth to their Achtung Baby.”

I don't know about the Achtung Baby business, I think they'll need to keep stretching out just a little bit for that. But there's no reason to think Franz Ferdinand isn't capable of it, as long as they cover their ears to infantile reviews like that one.

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