How Much Background Needed to Write Decent Reviews?

Pitchfork’s review of Burial’s Untrue is mostly on point, though it’s funny to see a music reviewer struggle (or at least only intuit around) with well-known concepts such what a half-time beat is. If you play half-time on the drums, then by definition your accented snare or rimshot will fall on the third beat. That, and the fact Reggae is one of the rhythmic foundations of UK garage make the writer’s puzzlement at this album’s rhythmic structures feel a bit noobish. Feels like someone reviewing a blues album without knowing what a shuffle is. Because I’m such a nice guy, here’s a homework assignment for Philip Sherburne: Gavin Harrison’s Rhythmic Illusions.
It’s fun to see how often this record ended up in the “best of” 2007 lists. Not that it’s a bad album, but 2-step with IDM fishbowl production values (thank god, because garage can be so cheesy) is basically music from ten years ago. It reminds me of this guy I once heard define funk as a genre from the eighties led by Prince…
Anyway, I didn’t mean to pick on Pitchfork, and I’m sure I’m sounding pedantic. My point is, if you’re paid to write about music, it helps to know the basics, not just name-drop sub sub-genres of little consequence, all things considered (“speed garage” anyone?).

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