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Truth and lies

I was a bit disappointed when my Liars review in Slate seemed to disappear into a vacuum, so I'm glad that there are finally a few responses to it. One critic temporarily revoked my poetic license, but I'm happy to say that it's been handed back to me (and I didn't even have to buy any tickets to the annual poets' ball in order to get it back -- the defendant is relieved).

Andrew Beaujon, who wrote the review in Spin that was a partial jumping off point for my piece, also chimed in, back in April, though I've only just now seen the posting.

For what it's worth, and I hope this doesn't sound horribly waffly of me, Beaujon is pretty much on the mark with his comments, and I didn't intend to imply that he had an agenda in granting the album an "F."

I went into that review asking myself two questions -- why were critics so split over the record, and what did I hear in it that suggested exactly the opposite of what the negative critics heard? (I was especially curious since I'm not generally favorably disposed towards much of the shapeless noise-rock emerging at the moment.) But I also wanted to move beyond the minutiae of personal taste and attempt to divine what seemed like a kind of cultural pattern, to read the reception of the Liars' disc as a barometer of the current status of the retro-rock project itself.

Of course, reception is always tricky territory, and I had occasional doubts as to the validity of the approach. At one point I included something like a disclaimer on behalf of Beaujon and also Rolling Stone's reviewer, something to the effect that these are surely writers with record collections and historical knowledge as deep as (if not, as is likely, much deeper than) mine -- but of course that would have been silly, an even further attempt to psychologize their decisions.

(Although, at the same time, I'm not sure that characterizing Liars' new approach as indicating "contempt" for their audience doesn't make the same move down the slippery slope of authorial intention.)

I don't regret writing the piece, and I don't (exactly) regret my approach, but I also don't think I really nailed the argument as I was trying to make it -- and maybe that's because it wasn't there to be made. I'm still not sure. I do regret what Beaujon perceived as a snotty tone, which is something I try to reserve for people like, say, Nick Hornby (despite the apparently increasingly combative quality of my blog lately -- maybe it's time for me to switch anti-depressants?).


I, for one, am in your debt. For up to the time I read your Salon review, I was avoiding the Liars' disc based on negative reviews that appeared elsewhere. Contemptuousness must appeal to me, because I find "We Were Wrong..." to be every bit as good as the debut, if altogether different.

virtually any writing on this album will be disappearing into a vacuum methinks. simply because (i believe) this activity essentially has to involve the forced projecting of some cerebrated merit onto the album's half-formed, somewhat dim-witted template. or in the case of the kind listener, some of whom number among my friends, just an oldschool suspension of disbelief. and this is where the album succeeds, in soliciting this sort of almost charity (no small feat admittedly)...see also A.R.E. Weapons et al, it's become at least an NYC cultural pattern for sure

sorry you got your licence revoked. i always blame the editor in these kinds of situations.

yo duke, just out of curiosity-- how often do you get crispy? I have a simple theory regarding the appreciation of the Liars (and other participants in the "NYC cultural pattern for sure"-- ie, Black Dice, Animal Collective) and your input would totally help me with my theory.

Goodwillsidis, what's your theory? Because if it's anything like mine (This Is NYC Stoner Music And It Will "Make Sense" If You're Stoned While Listening To It -- which I think is a cop out, 'cause just about everything tends to "make sense" in some way or other when one is 'crispy', no? ) I'll be surprised.

any conflation of the liars with the likes of the dice or AC seems to me to be an already flawed premise for a theory. and you know i've been around for a little while but am flabbergasted that i have never heard this term 'crispy.' anyhow i would point you to that rodney dangerfield article in the new rolling stone to see how i'm livin'.

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