By Matt Pais and Ernest Wilkins
RedEye Sound Board
October 30, 2013
It's almost impossible to hear discussion of "Reflektor," the just-released Arcade Fire album, without the words "highly anticipated" attached. The message that comes with it, and the latest from the Grammy award-winning Canadians, is, "At a time when few bands matter, Arcade Fire matters. We should all appreciate and love them for the serious, thoughtful, dense music they make. Bow down!"
Thanks, but no thanks. We don't buy into the hype--the lyrics never spoke to us, and they're almost objectively terrible on "Reflektor," which maintains the band's fondness for self-indulgent music that's neither fun nor rewarding on an intellectual level. It's just proud of itself for no good reason, which we know is an opinion that many music critics and, surprisingly, music fans take as moronic.
Here are some other bands that, due to their critical acclaim, mainstream success or both, society seems to suggest you have to like or you're a damn fool.
I'm not sure if you know this, but "Meriweather Post Pavilion" is the best album of all time. At least, that's what many would like the rest of the world to think. I can certainly appreciate an act that refuses conventional structures and draws out feeling from mood and experimentation, but at no point do I find actual, involving songs in the work of Animal Collective. And that's even truer when they take the stage. -- MP
It's kind of insulting to assume that everyone grew up listening to the Beatles and that the lyric sheet from "Hey Jude" is a sacred text. A lot of us didn't. A lot of us really didn't get the hype. A lot of us think some of their stuff is ... boring? I'll leave you to furiously comment now. -- EW
For years the New York outfit hovered below the radar--it wasn't until 2009's widely beloved "Bitte Orca" that every critic and their mother decided the group's busy version of indie rock was masterful in its angular jaggedness. Or whatever. "Stillness is the Move" is great, but both "Bitte Orca" and 2012's "Swing Lo Magellan" still feel like to work to listen to. -- MP
Any "buzz" band
Remember the Vines? The Ting Tings? Cults? At one time, all of these artists were being heralded as the next big thing. The yearly frothing over new acts that will SHAKE UP THE MUSIC BUSINESS is a trade that we practice in but sometimes hate being a part of. Like making outfits for dogs or something. It isn't that the hype cycle is tiring and that most everyone else regurgitates the same opinions under different bylines, it's this notion of, "We say you should like it, so that's all you need, right?" Take the advice if you want, but you're free to do whatever you want. Remember that. -- EW
This is one of those bands that some people listen to and hear subtlety, depth and brilliance. I can't get into them at all, perhaps as an extension of how difficult it was to stay awake during their set at Pitchfork a few years back. -- MP
For the longest possible time, DFA Records head honcho James Murphy and his collective existed only in the playlists of like-minded creative types and their trend-humping legions of followers. What? You don't like "Losing My Edge"? Well, as far as 8 minute-long rants are concerned, it's fine and dandy. The hostitlity only increased in 2011 when the band announced it was splitting up. You would have thought Jesus Christ himself was splitting up with his band after a Madison Square Garden farewell concert. Side note: The 2012 documentary of that concert "Shut Up and Play the Hits" is way more interesting when you have little-to-no concept of the band's previous works. Seriously. -- EW
Don't get me wrong: Her voice is absolutely haunting, and it's not as if the industry is overflowing with famous harpists. So Joanna Newsom fills a void that some people probably never considered before. Yet the widespread raves for overwhelming work like "Ys" or the triple album "Have One On Me" ignores how difficult it is to listen to more than a little of this at a time. A bit odd for an artist so good at being spare to often lay on the quantity so thick. -- MP
I like some songs by Radiohead. I like the fact that Thom Yorke and his crew use their platform to stand up for stuff. I hate everything else. If another greasy bespectacled goon talks about how "mammoth" and "iconic" "OK Computer" was, I'm going to eat my shoe. Give. Me. A. Damn. Break. -- EW
Let us all applaud a bunch of Ivy League hipsters who want to be Paul Simon. Let us rave about Ezra Koenig's cutesy yelping and the band's lack of impact in concert. Nothing wrong with gratuitously name-checking African culture, clearly! Strong reviews and massive mainstream popularity has now long avoided the fact that Vampire Weekend quickly goes from catchy to grating once you actually pay attention to what the band's doing. --MP
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