Usually, a record is released and, via reviews, press and blogs, all the lovers and haters reveal themselves. It is part of the album cycle: and while it is a grossly stressful period for a musician to live through, it usually coincides with a tour – playing shows and getting drunk – and therefore the band misses a lot of what the press is saying about them. (Un-)Luckily, we have Metacritic to catalogue and remind us of what everyone thought, granting a review the same timelessness previously only attributable the album itself.
After the passing of about six months, the novelty of a release has been exhausted and, aside from reviewing live shows and reporting on other menial/tragic events of a musician’s life, people generally stop talking about it. This is true especially for the haters, who usually can’t wait to stop talking about something they hate: “Oh, Lord. My editor/girlfriend/brother made me listen to this. Thank You that I never have to hear that again.”
Especially perplexing, however, is when the haters keep talking about the object of their aversion. A recent poke at The Dears, randomly included at the end of a review for the new (and incidentally mesmerizing) Pas Chic Chic album, reminded me of this phenomenon:
“In doing so, they achieve what lesser bands like The Dears fail to do: deliver menace, mystery and melody in equal doses.” – Guelph Mercury.
Weird. That was out of the blue…right? No. Mysteriously, this seemingly innocent remark comes as part of a persistent stream of a single journalists’ undying anti-Dears sentiment:
“…leave the sloganeering to the Dears’ Murray Lightburn…” – Exclaim, Dec 2003, in an article about BSS.
“Those that left earlier have returned after facing the prospect of enduring The Dears.” – Radio Free Canuckistan, remembering the Hillside Festival 2007.
“Dears: I’ve always found this band hot and cold, but even this skeptic thought No Cities Left was a grand achievement. This, on the other hand, had me pressing ‘skip’ halfway through every plodding track. I’m glad Mr. Lightburn claims to be feeling more optimistic these days, but you’d never guess that from the tepid music found here.” – Radio Free Canuckistan, Polais predictions.
“What a terrible record. I really wish I could have heard what Aaron Brophy was saying in his introduction, because I desperately want someone to articulate to me what’s actually good about that record.” – Radio Free Canuckistan, on Gang of Losers at the 2007 Polaris Prize.
The writer in question is Canadian music journalist Michael Barclay, and Radio Free Canuckistan is his own blog, so some license should be granted there. We are each entitled to our opinion, and while I would hope to please as many people as possible with The Dears, I can understand that there will always be just as many that won’t like us. Perhaps Mr. Barclay is simply a disgruntled fan: he says he reluctantly liked No Cities Left but thought Gang of Losers was rubbish. And that’s totally a valid opinion. Sometimes I feel the same way, but in slightly less harsh terms.
I am trying to understand Mr. Barclay’s prolonged hatred for us. I mean, it used sting, then really hurt but now it’s kind of comical. As if it is his duty in the musical sphere to represent those in the world that don’t like our music: our own anti-delegate, or personal antagonist.
So my open letter to Mr. Barclay: Dear Sir, I propose a blog discussion. Something civil: a real-life music debate where we could discuss the issues. Like Hillary and Barack. But I don’t want to be Hillary, and if you don’t want to be Hillary either then you can choose from: McCain, Harper or Charest. Or we could just call ourselves “Barack A”and “Barack B.” You decide.