Several well-written reviews and features in Pitchfork lately, including those on Rema, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Sigur Ros, Shellac, and Ray Charles, have me realizing that the site is on something of a hot streak.
I’ve read the site for close to twenty years, and watched it work through phases of zine-like underground discovery and critique, breathless mid-aughts NYC-centrism (remember when Cults were going to be huge?), and overly woke poptimism.
The recent standout pieces – and there are many more – evidence a willingness and secure vulnerability to take all music on its own terms and talk about what’s great, and isn’t, about it. The poptimist revolution is complete, the old hierarchies and canons have been dispersed*, and we got the good version of the poptimist future; the one that circles back and includes the best of the old favorites and finds new gems that had been overlooked in previous critical structures.
(For another blog; perhaps this is only possible after music’s cultural influence recedes, lifting the weight off of opinions about it)
* Narrowly within music criticism, I mean. Political and social hierarchies remain, and Pitchfork isn’t immune from reflecting them
Long story short I’m loving some Ray Charles this morning, because of Pitchfork.