There’s one moment in which Harry Styles transcends its big-name influences. Closer “From the Dining Table” opens with a startling scene: a horny, lonely Styles, jerking off in an opulent hotel room before falling back asleep and getting wasted. “I’ve never felt less cool,” he admits. The writing is frank and economic; it sounds like Styles is singing softly into your ear, a bashful mess. It’s the only song on the album that invites you to consider what it must be like to be Harry Styles: unfathomably famous since before you could drive, subjected to unrelenting attention everywhere except bunker-like studios and secluded beaches, forced to zip around and around the world for half a decade when you’re supposed to be figuring out who you are and what you want. And yet “From the Dining Table” sounds less like a complaint than a confession meant for you and you alone. It’s intoxicating, and it ends Harry Styles on the most promising possible note.
—  Pitchfork review

anonymous asked:

idk a pitchfork why is their review so important?

they’re notoriously pretentious music snobs who will rip artists a new one without mercy – they gave ed sheeran’s divide a 2.8/10 rating when it came out

unfortunately they’re also the most widely read indie music publication out there and people hang on their every word. they can make or break an album’s success and an artist’s career

Pitchfork’s opinions have gained increased cultural currency; some in the mainstream media view the site as a barometer of the independent music scene, and positive quotes from its reviews are increasingly used in press releases and affixed to the front of CDs.

Some publications[3] have cited Pitchfork in having played a part in “breaking” artists such as Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Interpol, The Go! Team, Junior Boys, The Books, Broken Social Scene, Cold War Kids, Wolf Parade, Tapes ‘n Tapes, and Titus Andronicus

they’ve point blank refused to review any of 1d’s albums. they reviewed zayn’s mind of mine and gave it a 5.9/10 which was shockingly high (not a comment on his music but a comment on the pitchfork #culture) AND BASICALLY I EXPECTED THEM TO EITHER IGNORE HARRY OR GIVE HIM LIKE A 3 BUT THEIR REVIEW JUST CAME OUT AND THEY GAVE HIM A 6.8/10 I HONESTLY CAN’T BELIEVE


Life Was a Song, You Came Along  , by @rainbowninja

It’s embarrassing how long it takes Louis to recognize his own song. Niall had sung it as a bright, hopeful love song, and that’s honestly how Louis had always assumed it should sound. But this new voice, slow and rough, stripped of any backing instrument, has infused the lyrics with just the tumultuous mix of fear and defiance that Louis can remember so clearly from the night he wrote them.

It’s not a comfortable thing, to feel like someone is singing all your secrets back to you.

Louis is a songwriter trapped in a lie that could ruin his best friend’s career. Harry owns a record store, distrusts everyone in the music industry on principle, but loves Niall Horan’s newest album. A modern retelling of Singin’ in the Rain.

Harry/Louis | 31k | angst | hate to love | explicit (b!Louis)

Later, whenever Louis tells the story, he starts with Pitchfork. When questioned, he always argues that the day Pitchfork reviewed Niall’s album was the day things really started going to shit.

It’s not quite true, of course. The seeds of destruction had actually been sown months ago by Simon Cowell, head of one of the largest record labels in Britain and also, incidentally, Louis’ boss. Simon was the one who had pushed for Niall to be branded as a singer-songwriter: “you know, speaking from the heart. Just you and your guitar on stage, like all that Ed Sheeran bullshit? It’ll be huge.” Simon was also the one who told Niall to pass Louis’ music off as his own, using words like “gift” and “happy compromise.” And then, when they’d both initially refused, using words like “legal battle” and “PR disaster” instead.

Louis knows he should regret the album that resulted. Although Louis and Liam have a bit of a reputation in the industry as hit-makers, they mostly write pop songs for boy bands and X Factor winners, and Louis had never intended for the songs in his personal notebooks to see the light of day. He can’t bring himself to regret that they have. Which is why Louis can’t blame Niall, or the album, or even Simon (mostly). And every time Louis suggests blaming himself, Liam launches into an earnest monologue that Louis doesn’t have the heart to forestall.

Instead, Louis decides to blame Pitchfork. He thinks Pitchfork exemplifies the type of pretentious, name-dropping, overly metaphorical nonsense that makes for the worst kind of music reviewing these days.

So, you know, they probably had it coming.

(thanks to @melmanpur for the manip, the notebook manip is mine with @yourssincerelylarry font), the Harry/Zayn is unknown.)

Her contemporaries Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, who have in the past burned brighter than Gomez, are lately scattered and floundering in search of new identities, leaving behind the cartoon characters and twerk provocateurs they once were, unsure of who to be instead. Cyrus is going for a middling Shania-lite sound with her new single “Malibu,” while Perry has, unfortunately, been trying out woke disco and Migos-assisted trap. Now, Gomez’s consistent, affability is beginning to feel like a solid strength. Maybe she’s had it right all the time, the proverbial tortoise to the fame hares of the world, slowly and methodically edging through the race, one foot in front of the other, until she snags a win. Which is precisely what “Bad Liar” is: A victory for an uncomplicated pop star who makes uncomplicated pop music, and a fizzy fun track that will sound as good all summer as the Gomez-endorsed Coke you pour into your rum.
—  Bad Liar review by (Pitchfork)
Harry Styles is a master of the middle distance. Look at him turning his right cheek to the camera, strands of wet hair hanging lank, a rogue petal clinging to a clump above his ear: “Sweet Creature is available now. Album is available in ten days. I am available always.” He remains an enigma after spending a half-decade in the world’s most popular boy band and dating one of the world’s biggest pop stars. And yet there’s something about Styles’ combination of roguish charm and eagerness to please that renders him exactly that: available. Leave the right Instagram comment at the right time, and he might show up on your doorstep the next morning with a bag of bagels and coffee with room. The ability to tap into this liminal space between intimacy and detachment is what makes Styles—and Harry Styles, the solo debut he’s releasing about a year and a half after One Direction’s dissolution—so captivating.
—  Pitchfork review

Goths, the latest from the Mountain Goats, is about the journey between life in the dark and death in the light, and ultimately trying to find a home somewhere between.

That elusive, literary home for John Darnielle—the lead singer and songwriter of the Mountain Goats for 26 years—has been a theme in his writing lately….

This final turn by Darnielle is what makes him a songwriter nonpareil: macabre humor, tales that weave in and out of fiction, and the smile he cracks after leaving a gaping hole in your heart. Beware, ye goths, life waits for us all, too.

—  Pitchfork review of Goths that claims John Darnielle is “in his own private league of songwriting” with which I couldn’t agree more, meaning I can almost forgive them for giving The Sunset Tree a 7.2
His vocal performances are invariably the best parts of these songs. Styles has described his stint in One Direction as “a democracy,” and every song featured a fight for breathing room between four or five hungry young singers. Here, he has space he can use. “Sign of the Times” jumps out of your speakers when he shifts into his thin falsetto, and it climaxes with a series of desperate howls. He makes a convincing alt-country troubadour on “Two Ghosts” and “Ever Since New York” by throwing on a little twang and a healthy helping of world-weariness. The down-home boogie of “Carolina” tests the limits of his nascent swagger. And I’ve never heard someone record their own backing vocals with the enthusiasm and panache Styles brings to Harry Styles. Every hoot, yelp, and chant are delivered with an impish grin, one that makes it hard not to crack a smile of your own.
—  Pitchfork review

“When I met M.I.A… I told her, “Just photograph yourself in front of the mixing desk in the studio, and people will go, ‘Oh, OK! A woman with a tool, like a man with a guitar.’”I remember seeing a photo of Missy Elliott at the mixing desk in the studio and being like, a-ha!”

-Bjork, interviewed by Jessica Hopper for the winter 2015 issue of The Pitchfork Review

Bjork continues on to say that while creating music, she doesn’t want to be photographed, because of how solitary and sometimes manic the experience is. She’s focused and can’t be bothered with appearances, but the lack of photographic evidence of her in the studio has lead people to question whether she actually wrote her music or if a man did.

While Bjork, or any woman, shouldn’t have to prove that they’re responsible for their own work, photographs of women working are empowering and help demystify the process for those interested in making music themselves. So, this is a photo of me, in my room, doing my thing. What do you look like when you’re working?

As The xx gear up to tour their new album, I See You, Oliver Sim reflects on a new version of himself

It was during The xx’s residency at New York’s Park Avenue Armory in March 2014 that Oliver Sim found out what stardom really looks like. “Those shows were crazy,” he says of their 25 performances at the former military headquarters on the Upper East Side. “The response we got, the people who came, the whole experience was mind-blowing.” Each night - at an event more like an art installation than a gig - the band performed encircled by an audience of just 40 people, who watched them play in complete silence. On the last night, A-list attendees included Jay Z, Beyoncè, Björk, Anohni and filmmakers Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. “Throughout the show I was facing (co-vocalist) Romy, and Madonna was standing directly behind her,” he says, reliving the moment. “Every time my gaze went up an inch, I was staring straight at her. It was surreal.”

Keep reading

Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell Live Album Review | Pitchfork
The most trusted voice in music.

While even his most elaborate albums feel hushed and solitary, his concerts are communal experiences. On stage, he’ll dress up his band as cheerleaders and strap a giant pair of wings on his back; he’ll take dancing cues from Justin Bieber and cover a hit song by Drake. Carrie & Lowell Live—while highlighting the starkest, saddest songs Stevens has ever written—reflects that side of his personality like no other release. This juxtaposition makes it a compelling listen and a fitting companion to a deep, multifaceted record.


The FULL GAMUT of images from my shoot for The Pitchfork Review of the captivating, exquisite, charming, Esperanza Spalding…

Our connection is symbiotic.  She is a badass accomplished female artist musician in her own right, marching the flag for jazz, redefining it into her own sound with her latest album D+Evolution.  Spalding is a prodigy; age 5 playing the violin for the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, winning 4 Grammies, and being the first jazz artist to be awarded for Best New Artist.  She’s a force of nature; there is no doubt about it.  On top of all of her prowess, she is a lovely kind human being.  We had a GREAT time playing around in my studio, making dynamic energetic portraits for The Pitchfork Review.  

Thank you to a awesome crew!! Stylist: Anna Su, Hair: Joseph Henry, Makeup: David Josie; Assistants: Vedant Gupta & Evan O’Brien!

As Much As I Can, As Black As I Am: The Queer History of Grace Jones

In 2008, Jones unexpectedly reemerged with Hurricane, her first record in 19 years. She brought back Woolley and the Compass Point All-Stars while adding contributors like Emmy-winning composers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, who worked with her for a month in their home on the the gospel-shaded canticle “Williams’ Blood”. “Prince has a presence and everybody in the room goes, ‘Whoa,’” Melvoin attests from first-hand knowledge—she and Coleman were key members of his Purple Rain–era backing band, the Revolution. “When Grace walks into the room, it’s more subtle, but it has the same effect. You just go, ‘My God, she’s taken up all of the space with that personality.’”

Hurricane mirrored that kaleidoscope. Unlike commonplace pop and rock luminaries who took extended vacations, Jones came back more polished and unpredictable than ever. With her trenchant track “Corporate Cannibal”, she even protested capitalist dehumanization by embodying it via grinding, insidious metal. But while her image as a constantly morphing, couture-clad hellion persists, the 67-year-old iconoclast stays true to herself. After all these years and so many disciples, there’s still no one like her.

While gathering up my Grace Jones memories, I was reminded of what Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon once said about entertainers. This was 25 years ago, so my memory may have altered her words, but it went something like this: We pay to bask in the confidence of our most beloved performers so that we may learn to similarly love ourselves. Grace did that for me, for her audience, for anyone who has ever been too queer, too black, too female, or too freaky for the world around them. Grace Jones is liberation. [Read More]

anonymous asked:

I don't completely disagree with that Pitchfork review and I read another review in the last day or so that made that sort of said you write what you know and Harry writes like a 23 year old guy who spent his later teenage years in a weird bubble of sequestering in hotel rooms or on the road and probably some wild partying/hook ups, that we know of he's never had a long term relationship and he's spent the last 5+ years rather rootless and caught up in a chaotic career. I guess what I'm 1/2

saying is that I think Harry’s love and relationships so far have been rather one dimensional and that sort of comes out in his writings. I really love most of this album sonically but for me this is just a beginning and I have high hopes that the next album will be even better and he will push himself a bit more lyrically. I also think this past year and this upcoming year are all new experiences for him doing this alone with a different type of team and I hope that shows in his writing. 2/2


I’ve received a bunch of messages about this topic which is cool and all (but some not so cool - I see you Iarries 😒). However, I just wanted to answer this one since it captures a lot of what I disagree with in most of the messages in my inbox (sorry if it feels like I’m singling you out - I promise that I’m not and that I don’t mind you sent this. When I say ‘you’ down below I just mean anyone in the fandom).

I don’t care about the actual real life experiences that Harry is writing about, i.e. “Harry’s love and relationships so far have been rather one dimensional and that sort of comes out in his writings”. For one, we don’t actually know that. It’s all conjecture - who’s to say Harry hasn’t had substantive relationships? How could any of us possibly know that? We see very little of his real life and I think it’s really important to remember that if we’re going to engage in criticizing his work.

We also can’t say that a song’s lyrics are not fully realized/good/substantive/etc. bc they might be based on a super casual relationship/friendship or anything that’s not “romantic”. Why not? There’s no emotional or factual validity test that good lyrics need to pass. If you, the fan, are over-invested in the real life people and experiences he writes about then that’s fine to admit, but it is not a legitimate basis for criticism. No one is the perfect fan - were all inherently over invested just by virtue of being a fan in the first place. I’m not trying to judge. It’s still not a reason you can use to criticize art tho.

None of this is where any of my criticism of his lyrics is rooted. It’s in his choice to use extremely loaded/coded phrasing like “can’t take you home to mother in a skirt that short”, the annoying bordering-on-harmful lady in the street/freak in the bed (or angel/devil) trope, writing hooks about her being a “good girl” and then following that up with manic pixie dream girl-like verses. They’re lazy cliches rooted in very toxic, sexist language in our society. It makes for bad writing. That’s why I don’t like some of these lyrics. He can avoid relying of cliche and still write universal/pop lyrics.

I’m not saying Harry wrote these with any malice or intent to disrespect - I don’t think that at all. However, it isn’t great and shows his weakness as a writer and, in my opinion, a glaring opportunity for more introspective and thoughtful writing in the future. If a song like From the Dining Room is anything to go by, he certainly has the potential to get there.

But to the Pitchfork writer’s point, Harry has this persona as a sort of unconventional, fluid guy who dismisses toxic masculinity and big ups young women. Some of this is projected onto him sure, but it also clearly is something he is putting out there too. And I like that about him! But I want his music to match. So it’s not about the actual facts of the lyrics or of Harry’s life - it’s about the disconnect between his persona and his lyrics, which I think is fair game to criticize. I also am hopeful he’ll grow on the next album.

“Styles struggles most with writing about women, a shame given that Harry Styles is supposed to be “a song cycle about women and relationships.” The subject of “Only Angel” turns out to be a “devil in between the sheets.” The irrepressible Southern flame at the heart of “Carolina” ends up a “good girl” out of the Drake playbook. “Kiwi” is devoted to a “pretty face on a pretty neck” with a “Holland Tunnel for a nose” (because it’s “always backed up,” he quips).”

-Harry album review on Pitchfork-