Here are some more recent single reviews I’ve done for Resident Advisor. One of Crosstown Rebels latest release, another of Moon Harbour’s latest release, and finally a review of Ame’s “Balandine” in which my 5/5 score seems to have been a little too high for some.
In my defence I should say first of all that I think both sides of that Ame 12 are really brilliant, and distinct from each other. That in itself is rare and reason enough for me to give an equally rare 5/5.
But furthermore, as a writer, I really dislike giving arbitrary scores to records, or at least find having to logically discuss them a little weird. It’s like they’re a way for people to ignore everything you’ve said in the review in favour of a numerical value, a buyers guide. But I accept people like them so they are necessary.
My dislike also probably goes back to my first published reviews in an Irish music magazine called Hot Press 5 or 6 years ago. Back then I used to have to give a record a score that would pre-empt the editor (pushing 60 but wishes he was born in the Geldof generation, enough said) changing it to appease the numerous commercial interests that were keeping the bulletholed rag afloat.
So, for example if any of you remember that really underwhelming N*E*R*D “Fly or Die” record that sounded like Lenny Kravitz, I gave that a 1 out of 10 knowing if I gave it 4 or 5 it’d be changed to a respectable 6 or 7. Subsequently the 1 was changed to a 3, as far as I recall. Kind of ridiculous in a Spinal Tap style isn’t it? “It’s okay guys, we changed the score from 1 to 3! The record is TWO BETTER now!”
The same editor, who’s been all over the Irish news this week, holding forth about the mag’s 30th anniversary in a manner that fits the bloated pomposity of the phrase “holding forth” like a latex glove, then practically apologised for the review in his column in the magazine. He reassured the same unseen music industry forces who presumably have had him over a barrel for many years that “although the new NERD album recieved a critical roasting in this issue, we’re still sure it’ll be a big seller!”. There’s a silent “please forgive me music industry” in that sentence.
Another time, more recently, he changed the sentence “that’s a bold claim” to “them’s fightin words”. This was in the last review I ever wrote (and probably will ever write) for the same publication. It’s a change so idiotic, pointless, and inexplicable that some of my friends who read the review told me their first thought was “Ronan would never say that”. Thankfully.
After listening to this man self-eulogising about the good old days on Irish radio this week I thought: where’s good old Jim Carroll when you need someone to burst the bubble of a bloated Irish institution? That is, on the pages of a considerably less bloated one. (Them’s fightin words!)
PS: Non-Irish may have no idea what this post is about!