Skip to main content

In Defense of Matt Pond PA

This Pitchfork review of Matt Pond PA's new album, Last Light, has me all riled up.

I love the idea of Pitchfork; daily reviews, news about bands you wouldn't otherwise get news about, the occasional enlightening feature article. That's all really cool. But, whether by design or circumstance, the site has evolved into a haven for indie rock snobs

When rock 'n' roll was born, so was the rock snob. This type of person has an innate need to actively dislike any music which the majority of others enjoy. There's no sense of artist loyalty in the rock snob. They'll go cold on a band in a New York minute (and don't even get them started on Don Henley), but, hypocritically, will demand full fan loyalty from the artists they support. They are never short on opinions; and sometimes their opinion even has factual basis. Some rock snobs don't even really like music all that much. To them, music is a matter of identity more than anything else.

A lot of rock snobs, like Adam Moerder, become music critics.

Mr. Moerder approaches his Matt Pond PA review with a couple of chips on his shoulders (another rock snob specialty). The first is an obvious dislike of mainstream rock, as his references to Dave Matthews, David Gray, Howie Day and Phil Collins will indicate. He doesn't actually say anything bad about these artists. Rather, he assumes his audience is composed of fellow rock snobs who will understand innately that these are not artists to be taken seriously (note: they're all popular).

Moerder's other burden is simply that he doesn't like or respect Matt Pond PA. This is fine as an opinion. But, then, why agree to review their album? If you are going to review records by artists you hate, your review need only be the following sentence: "It has always been my belief that this band sucks, and this album did nothing to change that belief."

Unfortunately the rock snob mentality is not so simple. In fact, if rock snobs were not able to go on in detail about why certain artists are terrible, their whole reason for existing would be thrown into question.

So Moerder tells us that Matt Pond PA are fundamentally flawed in many ways. For one, he says, they have no clear audience. For another, their relevance is in serious doubt. I don't know about you, but when I am looking for a really good song or album, the first thing I think about is audience and relevance, certainly not lyrics, melody or production.

When Mr. Moerder actually does spend a couple of sentences discussing the album's songs, he offers nothing more insightful than three artist comparisons, which as I've said before, are the haven of the lazy critic. By the way, sort of counter to his point, he compares the songs to Elliot Smith, Pulp, and Polyphonic Spree respectively. All three, coincidentally, are rock snob approved artists.

Moerder is also upset that the band doesn't experiment enough. To punctuate this, he points out that the band doesn't have enough fans, so there's no one to offend if they branch out. If you take that logic and apply it backwards, he's saying the Beatles should have never made Revolver or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band because their fan base was too big to support such experimentation.

Finally, Mr. Moerder suggests that the "indie universe pull the plug" on Matt Pond PA. Does this actually happen? Can an outside party decide to pull the plug on a band? Does the band get official notification? And what exactly is the indie universe? Does it have a board of directors? I'd like more information.

I saw Matt Pond PA perform this past Monday night. The audience greeted them enthusiastically and sung along to the songs they knew. The new songs from Last Light sounded great live. Of course, you won't find anyone ready to declare them the best or most original band in the world, but neither do they deserve the kind of hatefulness in Adam Moerder's review. In fact, when it comes down to it, Mr. Moerder's review is just as bad as the bland music he and his rock snob ilk deride. It seems fine on the surface, but when you really think about it, you realize it has no substance.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

12 by Weezer

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... I decided to take an unconventional route for this 12 by, and pretend Weezer have already released a "greatest hits." Here's what I think that would look like:  1) "Buddy Holly", 2) "Undone - the Sweater Song", 3) "My Name Is Jonas", 4) "The Good Life", 5) "El Scorcho", 6) "Hash Pipe", 7) "Island in the Sun", 8) "Dope Nose", 9) "Keep Fishin'", 10) "Beverly Hills", 11) "We Are All On Drugs", 12) "Pork and Beans".  Here's a different take: 1. " Say It Ain't So"  (from Weezer , 1994)  A little bit heavy, a little bit catchy, quiet-loud dynamics. So basically, it's Pixies lite. The song is interesting lyrically because it's basically nonsense until the "Dear daddy..." bridge, which lets out a t

12 by Jenny Lewis

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... Completely separate from Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has put together an impressive oeuvre that is very difficult to winnow down to just 12 songs (if you include her work with Rilo Kiley, fuhgeddaboudit). But I've made what I feel is a valiant attempt. Because I admire Jenny's lyrics so much, I'm going to limit my commentary to a favorite couplet from the song. (If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen along here .) 1. "Rise Up With Fists!!!" (from Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "But you can wake up younger, under the knife / And you can wake up sounder, if you get analyzed." 2. "Melt Your Heart" (from  Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "It's like a valentine from your mother / It's bound to melt your heart." 3. "Born Secular" (from Rabbit Fur Coat , 2005) "God works in mysterious ways / And God give

12 by Vicious Vicious

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... If you need a reference point for the work of Vicious Vicious mastermind Erik Appelwick, the most appropriate would be Beck. Like Mr. Hansen, Minnesota-based Appelwick has the ability to navigate between making you laugh and making you cry and making you want to dance, and embraces genres from country to R& B to folk to pop.  I've included songs from the two albums Appelwick did under the name Tropical Depression, because honestly there's not a lot of difference between that and Vicious Vicious.  I very literally  wrote the book  on Appelwick, so please feel confident you are hearing from an authority here.  If you have Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen to an alternate version of list here  (sadly, not all of VV's music is on the service). 1. "Shake That Ass on the Dance Floor" (from Blood + Clover , 2003) A loungy, laconic come-on