An Amazon Fist Fight

Boy things can take an ugly turn for those brave enough to give a weak review to an album over at Amazon. The following is one of those conversations, on a review of Tame Impala’s new album Lonerism.

Amazon reviewer: “I really wanted to like it…but the songwriting is weak [possible exceptions being “Elephant” and “Keep On Lying”]. There are a lot of very good ideas here that are simply not fleshed out fully, and I [for one] am sick to death of shrouding meandering and repetitive ideas in walls of trippy noise. And if you’re going to tell me you listen to that annoying first track over and over, I will tell you to seek help. I am pulling for the guy, but I do not buy the hype. Maybe the next record will be great.”

Responder #1: “Derp Dee Derp the songwriting is weak? who the F- cares? I don’t even know any of the words and this album is still the best i’ve heard this year maybe with the exception of Centipede Hz. Not fully fleshed out? maybe thats the point. my fave is mind mischief or maybe apocalypse dreams. don’t be such a skeptic.”

Amazon reviewer response: “It’s rather obvious that you disagree. “Who the F- cares?” I kinda do, and so do you. Otherwise you wouldn’t have replied. So let’s discuss, okay? Firstly, admitting that you don’t know the words does not really work in your favor for this discussion. Maybe people should be more skeptical sometimes, or they could just avoid buried lyrics and slacker singing altogether, and listen to good instrumental-based rock music, like Explosions In The Sky or Lite or Can or Sigur Ros or Eno. Also, I feel that the riffs and actual chord progressions are not just repetitive, but not at all unique. An entire record of unfinished-sounding ideas is a tough sell unless the personality of the artist is undeniable. It sounds like sub-par Flaming Lips out-takes to me. He does have a fine producer’s ear, for sure. I’m glad you and all the 5-star reviewers enjoyed it. I bought it because I support new artists. It came highly recommended. I listened, I did not love it, and I think some people are saying it’s a masterpiece because it’s either somehow hip to do so, or they’re blissing out to their first good bong hit. I don’t really post negative reviews [and that’s partly because someone almost always “derp dee derps”], and I did give it 2 stars [maybe 2.5, although my repeat listens make me think 2 was correct] and say that I hope the next one is better. This one is mediocre. Not hating here. Speaking a fact-based opinion. Take care.”

Responder #2: “Or maybe Chris… you think that you’re hip for *not* liking something that is so blatantly good, just to be different. I don’t smoke at all, and this is the best record I’ve ever heard. If you don’t like trippy noise then why are you listening to a psychedelic band in the first place?”

Amazon reviewer response: “Obviously, I realize I’m am in the minority here with what I think. But your reply does not help any discussion. You missed it somehow, George. I never said I didn’t like trippy noise. To me, the well-executed layering of noise is the best part of this effort. I said the noise hides the lackluster songwriting. Please note that I plainly said there’s a lot of hope for this guy, and that he has ideas. It’s better than a lot of stuff, hipster or not. It’s just not as great to me as it is to some, and I pointed out some facts directly related to and explaining my opinion, which I am allowed to have. You are being vague and kinda mean. Also, if this is the best record you ever heard, you should listen to a whole lot more music. Take care.”

ME: “Listen, although I don’t agree with Chris and his assessment of the album he is certainly entitled to his opinion. Being belligerent ain’t gonna get you nowhere, know what I’m saying? Intelligent discourse on the merits or lack thereof regarding music is one of the great joys of being a fan. I understand and admire when people display ‘passion’ when discussing music, but it makes me sad when that ‘passion’ turns ugly. Let the man have his say, even if it is incorrect. :)”

Amazon reviewer: “Thanks, Moody Blue, I guess…but I do not feel that these melodies are that innovative or original. That’s it. Sorry to have caused such an uproar. Also, where are the bridges and choruses? The lyrics are mostly buried, so, I’ll give him a mulligan on that. He did indeed do a good production job, but I have experience in the field and it’s not a wondrous mystery, it’s knowing what equipment does [a multitrack and a phaser will apparently go a long way towards blowing certain minds]. There are a few [maybe three] complete songs, but most of these tracks are repeating/meandering riffs and/or sound pastiche. There are records in that vein by Eno, Bowie, Steve Reich, John Cage, and many others that are stunning, groundbreaking collage pieces. As for the psych-pop side of things, I wonder if any of these folks have even heard Pink Floyd, Todd Rundgren, The Church, Dukes of Stratosphear, Flaming Lips, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, or the first two MGMT records. My point is: it’s ponderous to me that anyone would claim this “the best album” they have ever heard when there are dozens of better examples of pysch-pop-rock, starting with the tail-end of the British Invasion, 45 years ago. That’s just about all I care to say about this, and that being said, I do appreciate the attempt at diplomacy. Take care.”

Responder #2: “Dude, I have over 15,000 songs in my library. If this is the best record I have ever heard, is that my opinion that I’m allowed to have as well? Obviously we don’t have the same taste. All I’m saying is maybe Kevin’s goal isn’t to write the most impressive lyrics ever created. I’m not a lyric guy, I’m a music guy. I’m must more impressed by instruments. I could care less about what a stranger is saying in a song. I don’t “relate” to lyrics, I live my own life. Since when did a song “have” to have a bridge or a chorus? Since when did someone have to be nice during an argument? Where are all these RULES coming from, Chris?? lol. People can be whoever they want to be, hommie.”

ME: “I remember having a conversation with my mother about how her mother classified Elvis Presley back when he first arrived on the scene. Want to know what she said? “These aren’t songs! Where’s the melody? Where’s the ‘tune’?” I would hazard a guess, Chris, that you’re most likely in your mid-late 40’s, like me. You’ve got to be careful or you’ll end up like your father (or my father), bemoaning the current state of music and that it was ‘better back in my day’. You bring up the flaming lips, a band I love and respect. Well, what about Embryonic, their latest? Where’s the song structure in that? And MGMT? Talk about derivative. Is this the best album of all time? Certainly not, one must have only a passing interest in music to think that, I reckon. But it is a decent record. Music is subjective, which is the reason we have drek like Mariah Carey and American Idol. Pop has always eaten itself, Chris, right from the beginning. As far as psych goes, sure you can hearken back to the ‘glory’ days of The Zombies and Floyd, if you’d prefer, there’s nothing wrong with that (and bonus points for the Todd Rundgren mention!), but you’d also be missing out on some fantastic albums, such as Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs, Grandaddy’s Sophtware Slump and more.”

Amazon reviewer: “Moody Blue, thanks for the kind invite to visit your blog, but no thanks for the nearly condescending history lesson. I’m not bemoaning anything, and I’m only occasionally a ‘commentor’. I was simply trying to get someone to [calmly] tell me specifics about what it is that I’m missing with this one supposedly great album. It has not happened yet. Never mind. I wanted to like it, I really do think it’s mediocre, and I have THOROUGHLY explained my opinion. Take care.”