View Full Version : Pitchfork Slams Backwards Masks

11-27-2006, 03:33 PM
Damn. Crunching.

I do agree with some points that the reviewer makes (not taking risks..plodding a bit) but I just can't swallow this reviews (not that I have to or whatever). Anyone agree with this guy?

Summer Hymns
Backward Masks
[Misra; 2006]
Rating: 4.4

You've heard Summer Hymns' new album before. Maybe not the record itself, but the elements are familiar: the gentleness of Danielson Famile's quiet moments, the gushing sentimentality of recent Flaming Lips, the vocal affectations of recent Mercury Rev, and the kind of driftless, meandering melodies that never seem to go much of anywhere.

If what I just described nails down what you look for and enjoy in music, Backward Masks is probably right up your alley. If not, run, because this might be the most alarmingly tedious indie release of the year. The band's previous albums were infused with more Elephant 6-brand whimsy-- child-like vocals, manic instrumentation, brassy Beach Boys rip-offs, you know the drill-- and weren't so hushed or maudlin, nor half as predictable. Backward Masks, on the other hand, takes itself much more seriously. Acoustic instrumentation casts long shadows of reverb behind a voice that creaks with earnestness like a balsa-wood levee. The tempo never rises above a plod, and the mood never veers into anything so visceral as hate, anger, giddiness, distaste, or mild discomfort.

The double-tracked vocals of "Fearanoia" are, as usual, vaguely reminiscent of the Beach Boys, and the horns layered over the double-time outro (speeding it up from "beach cruiser" to "Rascal") in "Start Swimming" quicken the pulse ever so slightly. But Backward Masks is so petrified of taking risks that even the few surprises, like the wandering fuzz-bass in opener "Way You Walk", are mired in a suffocating blanket of forced agreeability. The song is otherwise rote with the conventions of cuddle-rock, without even a sharp lyric here or there to help elevate it above the mundane.

Instead, singer Zachary Gresham wants to "love you in the most beautiful ways" because "there's no reason to be afraid of love." Also, he's "traded [his] contacts for hope-colored contacts" which make everything "vivid green" (apparently the official color of hope). Later, he's led to the realization that "baseball sucks and so does life/ I'm going on strike," but barring that, he'll join his friend who, "like a monkey," is "waiting for evolution to come on your little head."

It's to the point where I don't even blame the band. I just want to punch Wayne Coyne with a big pink fist for making this sap so viable for other musicians. I've typed "pleasant" and replaced it with synonyms so many times it doesn't even look like a word to me anymore. Spare me sunny warm-weather correlatives; put me in a hammock, spin it into a cocoon, and just light the fucker on fire. I'm choking on the summertime haze.

-Jason Crock, November 27, 2006

11-27-2006, 03:44 PM
i completely disagree with this review, there is music for moods, I can't listen to this record in every/any mood, but it is a great record I think, it perfectly fits what I want it to be and because of it I could not be more excited for the folklore/sumer hymns tour. I think it's very easy to slam artists for sounding soft, but it takes more talent than this reviewer who has yet to release a first album worth noting. Ehhh, that was rambling and pointless, but I really enjoyed this album.

11-27-2006, 08:01 PM
that's the same douchebag that gave expo such a horrible (and poorly written) review!

11-28-2006, 09:53 AM
Originally posted by samanthafayIFD
that's the same douchebag that gave expo such a horrible (and poorly written) review!

Yeah, but me thinks most reviewers would tank Expo if they weren't Schnieder fans prior.

In my head Backwards Masks was going to be more jazzy like Fools Gold Value Series. Still, it's really good if the moment is right. Fearanoia is right on. When The Bombs Fall....on and on. good album


11-28-2006, 10:10 AM
Idk about the marbles thing, music seems to be going more in the direction nowadays (at least it seems to me), If it wasnt a schneider album, and was the first release by marbles, and only pitchfork new about it, and of montreal had yet to release twins, i bet it wouldve done alright

11-28-2006, 12:06 PM
It should be noted that the lyric the reviewer had issue with was misquoted. They are "Hulk" not "hope" colored contacts.

el topo
11-28-2006, 02:00 PM
Yes, they're "Hulk-colored contacts" and their color is "livid green," not "vivid green." If he had heard the lyric correctly, it would have disproved the point he was trying to make!

Reviews is reviews, but the central problem is the critic wanted a different band.

el topo
11-28-2006, 02:07 PM
You know, write after I wrote that last post I went to the Pitchfork review to write the author, and saw that he had already corrected it. huh. Still disproves his own point, though.

11-28-2006, 02:11 PM
Am I the only one who saw a post written by Zachary? Or was I dreaming?

11-28-2006, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by CrazyHorse
Am I the only one who saw a post written by Zachary? Or was I dreaming?
I had that same dream ;)

Seemed like the guy didn't rank high enough at P'fork to get to review At War With The Mystics, so he needed to get a Lips jab in somewhere. . .

11-28-2006, 02:52 PM
Originally posted by CrazyHorse
Am I the only one who saw a post written by Zachary? Or was I dreaming?

Yeah, he yanked it for some reason. Probably after letting PF know of the error...eekers.

call me hi
11-29-2006, 05:45 PM
i love the summer hymns and i really like the new album. i guess maybe i'd just like to see him take more chances with the vocals. there doesn't seem to be much variation in that regard.