Lets Review The Album Review


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.

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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.


Rachel Hutchings

Los Angeles born, Ann Arbor raised. I'm a film student at the University of Michigan and an ardent music junkie on the side. I'm sure you'll catch me at local gigs around town.

3 thoughts to “Lets Review The Album Review”

  1. Rachel,
    Unfortunately, I am the type of person who does not (at least, not until now) look at music reviews. It’s just like you said; I generally base my decision on obtaining new music by listening to it and comparing it to my own taste in music. I based this decision on the mentality of “Why should I care about how others think about this music? If I do not like it, then why should I get it?”
    However, after reading your post, I now want to go look at some music reviews to see if others do agree with my perception of music haha. However, I am curious about the rhetoric utilized in these posts. Is it the polarized “Dude, this band/album is amazing, you just have to buy it and it will change your life forever” or “This is the worst album ever” type of comments, or is it a bit more nuanced and sophisticated? And you’re undoubtedly right, reliability is key in maintaining and holding a relationship with your audience. Although, I will say that it is funny to watch two people who passionately disagree duke it out in the comments section.

  2. I have a mixed relationship with album/book reviews. Sometimes I just have to read the book or listen to the song to determine whether or not I like it. People’s opinions are so subjective, and people often have different standards than I do. I often times find myself hating a particular book everyone loves and loving a book no one’s even heard. Even so, I’m still a sucker for reading reviews, hoping that this time, this people who wrote this comment knows what they’re talking about and at least has the same taste as me.

  3. Rachel —
    Music reviews are an interesting form of rhetoric. I am always a little wary of them, because art is subjective and people find good things and bad things about every performance. But, at the same time, feedback is important and can make you better as an artist. It’s a double edged sword for sure. I agree with your point about the importance of a relatable author. I think this can be established in a number of ways related to rhetoric: the authors selection of audience should affect his/her tone and make it more applicable to that group, the layout of the review should also reflect the wants and needs of that audience. I also think including a picture and bio for the audience makes the author seem more real, and therefore more relatable.

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