Online music reviews are a booming business of digital rhetoric, published for all to see and eagerly digest the opinions they enclose. Some of the time, album reviews are able to shed light on which direction the reader should point their ears toward. But mostly, those reading reviews are not perspective listeners but are just curious fans itching to know what critics had to say about their favorite tunes. But why? This was the case when a renowned music publication, Pitchfork, recently reviewed the new album by an obscure band I happen to like very much, Windhand, a femal-fronted doom metal 5 piece from Virginia.
Here is a link to the review and what the writer had to say about it.
Now I wasn’t reading the review to have it sway my decision to listen to it or not, oh no, you see I had already listened to it a dozen or more times.. respectively lol. So if I had already bought and listened to the record, and very much enjoyed the record, why was I here on this website reading this review from some journalist type who’s opinion, while perfectly warranted I’m sure, effected me almost no way at all?
I’m sure I, and other music fans, read reviews in search of some sort of external validation. Music fans read these album reviews to investigate whether or not others have found the same enjoyment in a record that they as listeners had also found. As a writer and conveyer of digital rhetoric, the music critic has a unique job of having to communicate their opinion while simultaneously being relatable to the reader. Because if relatability is lost, then the readers identification with the critics opinion is lost, which leads to, “well why do I care about what this guy thinks anyways!!!”
But if identification is made, then the critic’s opinion is valid, and he can keep his job writing for whatever publication will have him, Grayson Haver Currin, I’m watching you.
Well did I identify with this critic then? Luckily I didn’t have to work so hard to find the writer relatable since his positive review of the album aligned with mine, thankfully. Perhaps I have decent taste after all.