Friday, May 12, 2006

Oooh it's that nasty NME again...

... being, well, different. Yup, both me and Mr. Fuzz have noticed something a little different about this week's edition. For the Fuzz, it was the lambasting of the readers' collective decision to put Pete Doherty at Number Two in their 'Heroes' list - "Is he really still your hero?" they ask. Though as Paul points out, they apparently have no problem with the No. 1, Kurt Cobain. He's dead so better be nice.

Paul goes into further detail with this one, but what I noticed was something weird going on in the reviews pages. The Raconteurs - that band they've been bigging up for weeks, telling us that this is what Jack's been waiting for, and what we can all enjoy now he's got rid of that girl - well Rob Fitzpatrick gave those same Raconteurs a 6/10 review. A SIX OUT OF TEN REVIEW. Nothing that's been hyped gets 6. You may remember my eloquent reaction to the Arctic Monkeys' 10/10, which I now wish I'd put my house on (though then would I have only got my house back...? anyway). They, maybe, can be excused for this one. NME were relatively late backing the Monkeys (just making sure they backed the right horse this time after the whole Bloc Party debacle) and so probably wanted to make up for lost time. But you'd expect any hyped album to get a nine if it lives up to expectations, and an eight, and very possibly a seven if it doesn't. But six?! That's one above what they've given 'Feeder: The Singles' for goodness sake. This is pretty impressive, brave reviewing, and Mr. Fitzpatrick is getting a congratulatory letter outta me. It's not that I want the album to suck, quite the opposite to be honest, but for an NME reviewer to think it does, and moreover to say so, is almost unheard of, recently.

There is a problem, in that Fitzpatrick seems to have a chip on his shoulder about 'side-projects' generally, but we'll forgive for ending with these lines: "You'll buy it, put it on your iTunes and most likely never listen to it again. Meanwhile, Jack will return to Meg and something properly startling will (undoubtedly) occur."


Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I've always hated those reviews that give marks out of ten anyway... Why not EXPLAIN why its good/bad instead of a fatuous set of stars or numbers?

Dean said...

Wow, it really is a sad state of affairs when a music magazine containing a truely subjective opinionated review is news.

Or maybe this is the NME's new build-them-up, knock-them-down tactic - where the band are only any good until they actually release a record, when they're then clearly corporate sell-outs, with the recorded stuff not having the rawnewss and sloppy brilliance present in thier early live work that only 50 people have ever heard.

Or something. Sorry for the rambling, I'm procrastinating quite heavily over revision at the moment.

Paul Fuzz said...

Yeah, the Raconteurs review was interesting too. Given the context, 6/10 is 0/10. It's a nothing score. It's less than nothing. It's a slap in the face. Damning with faint praise. It says: "this is a dissapointingly dull, totally unremarkable album, the type of pretty good retro-rock LP Detroit bands (like The Greenhornes) put out every week and we don't even bother to review. We'd like to say that it's great, but it ain't. Really we wanna give it 5/10, but that's *really* bad, and it'd seem like we've been wasting your time for the past few months."

From what I've heard of the LP, it sounds like the review was pretty much spot-on. Watered down White Stripes, watered down Benson, watered down Greenhornes. Unlike the Doherty diatribe, however, this was -as you say- totally against the grain of NME editorial policy. We all know that the NME has washed it's hands of Doherty, but a 6/10 Raconteurs review was certainly unexpected.

BUT!!! The Raconteurs LP review in MOJO (who I gotta say I'm far more inclined to agree with on most subjects than the NME) was almost super positive, it was their lead New LP review and they really dug it alot. AND!!! All the Racs live reviews, lest we forget, have been totally, insanely over-the-top favourable, with many punters going as far as saying they were the best gigs they've ever seen. SO!!! Perhaps we might establish from all this that The Racs are all the things the NME said they were (-slightly self indulgent, slightly rich mans folly, very much flawed etc) BUT that all of this is perfectly in keeping with Jack White's aesthetic: ie, The Racs are a monster blues-stomping psyche rock prospect live, but a bit bland on record: just like Humble Pie, or Vanilla Fudge, or countless other early Seventies blues/boogie rock bands(they cover Big Star, y'know!)used to be. Jack White is not a glamorous indie star. He isn't a Smiths fan from Camden with a smack problem. He's a garage/blues rock god from DEETROIT, and The Racs make perfect sense in that context. This doesn't excuse a below-par LP, but perhaps the NME review (refering sniffily to side-projects etc) fails to grasp that this Jack venture is not a "Turns Out He Isn't Perfect Afterall" sorta deal (I think the Coca-Cola ad proved that...I gotta say, if there's anybody in the world who I would like to give the benefit of the doubt then it's JW, but fundementally I disagree with him advertising Coke quite strongly)but rather another valid exploration of the Jack White persona. It's a shame that the LP ain't great, but perhaps not for the reasons stated in the NME review. I sorta feel the NME apply rules to him that miss the point - y'know, it's JACK WHITE: of COURSE he's put together a psychedelic Led Zep powered boggie-blues outfit with some guys from Detroit! Of COURSE the LP sucks a bit! Of COURSE they're fantastic live! Of COURSE he'll go back to Meg and do something INCREDIBLE.

Ash said...

The album is outstanding, can't stop playing it. The review was quite surprising, i would have forgiven it if it was actualy written well. It really doesn't say much on why it's not that good instead it takes up most of its space about Jacks perception these days and the fact he hates the Raconteurs being called a 'super-group'!