Pitchfork Can’t Decide Whether to Deceive Readers, Or Merely Confuse Them

pitchfork.jpgThose of you who read Pitchfork every day–and, Lord, we feel your pain–probably experienced a strange sense of déjà vu while reading today’s review of Let’s Build A Fire, the latest album from indie-pop act Plus/Minus. “Wait a minute,” you said aloud, much to the chagrin of your cellmates. “Didn’t they review this album last week? And didn’t they give it a lower grade?”

Yep, they sure did. And what’s even weirder, they tried to destroy the evidence. After the click-through, proof of how nothing on the Internet can ever be erased.

So here’s the original review, posted on Thursday (November 16). It’s a fairly innocuous write-up, one that implores the reader to “consider them all but out of the emo closet.” The grade? A 6.8. Not too shabby, but hardly a coup.

At some point after the review was posted, however, Pitchfork decided to pull it off the site, removing all links and mentions; it’s like it didn’t even exist. Today, they replaced it with this write-up, which also deems the album a “heart-on-sleeve, borderline-emo pop record.” The grade? 7.3–only a few tenths of a point higher, but a little closer to “Best New Music” status.

So many questions: Why did Pitchfork replace the write-up to begin with? Save for the increased score, it’s not as though the reviews were so drastically different. They could have simply read the original review, realized that it was more harsh than they wanted, and re-assigned it–a dick move, for sure, but one that’s used by the major music mags from time to time, and one that could have saved them the embarrassment of double-dipping. And why, instead of being upfront with their readers, did they sneak around and try to pretend like the first review never happened?

+/- Let’s Build A Fire [11/16/06 review]
+/-, Let’s Build A Fire [11/21/06 review]

  • aggrobitch

    that is fucking annoying.

  • JJ-Still-Listen

    Calling out Stereogum and Pitchfork is really funny..

  • qyntellspitbull

    I agree. Stereogum, and especially Pfork, exist in a world without accountability, so it’s nice to see them get called out from time to time.

  • nosebleed

    more proof that they are so full of bullshit that they need to convince themselves they’re still credible.

    same thing happened to Buddyhead and their beloved gossip column, after awhile – no one will give a shit.

    i saw this “new” review, and i knew something hokey was up.

    someone actually listened to the record maybe instead of playing the “i have a thesaurus” word-jumbled-english-vernacular-jizz load of a review.

    i give pitchfork maybe another year before they’re wearing khaki’s and polo’s under some guise of a corporate entity.

    oh wait, that already happened.

  • tankboy

    I just realized, and this actually saddens me, I no longer look towards reading Pitchfork’s offerings of criticism or news like I once did. Honestly, I have nothing against those folks, and still dig quite a bit of what they do both on-line and off … it’s just that I no longer get the same sense of excitement I did reading their site five years ago.

    Is that because there are now so many sites doing what they do — sometimes better — that they have just faded in relevance? Or is it because they have begun, probably out of necessity (and this doubling of reviews is an excellent example of this), to more resemble the MSM giants they once were poised to displace?

    However they DID break that awesome Watt / Clarkson piece, so, in my opinion, I guess that makes up for this foible. Right?

  • Nicolars

    Heh, the new review is written by one Jason Crock — at least he was aptly named.

  • StartingAces

    payola? threats of losing a promo deal? or just trying not to hurt someone’s feelings? you can smell those “i listened to at most 10 seconds of each song” reviews at about 3 sentences in. i can’t seeing the something like new clipse record being dissected note for note, while most reviews look like my spam inbox. i love rap, but the credfest is unbearable.

    the art of the nonreview is dead, tiny mix tapes set a bar that no one can match: http://www.tinymixtapes.com/musicreviews/n/nine_inch_nails

  • Major Tom

    it’s actually not a mistake at all, but in fact a meaningful conceptual joke by Nick Sylvester.

  • absolutelykosher

    I think everyone’s conspiracy theories are hysterical. This was mildly embarrassing for Pitchfork (they took responsibility for not fact-checking), but the real embarrassment needs to be owned by Adam Moerder, the writer of the original review (and a perpetrator of falsehoods in past reviews). In spite of receiving the proper version that we released in late October, Moerder illegally downloaded the version rushed out in Asia last year in time for the band’s tour there. Our version had several tracks swapped out or renamed (including some of the ones indicted by Moerder), the entire record remixed and, for the first time, properly mastered. It’s bad enough that Moerder’s review is mean spirited and off-the-mark (Crock should’ve veered from the “emo” brand too – jeez – if you must know, we lobbied for Mark Pytlik), but he reviewed the wrong record. When this came to Pitchfork’s attention, they first modified the review to reflect the fact it was an import and then, correctly deciding that this was a copout, pulled the review entirely an hour later and reassigned it to another writer. We’re obviously much happier with the new review, though I contend that we’d have gotten a higher score from it if the first one hadn’t been published. I suspect their will be no long-term repercussions for Adam Moerder for his asinine smear of a record the band took an extra year to finish properly for U.S. release. I think Pitchfork did their best to correct the error, but kicking a writer like that to the curb would be the best for them.

    Cory Brown
    Absolutely Kosher Records

  • The Lord God

    +/- = waste of time

  • Wolverines

    That’s really funny. The dude didn’t even want to wait until he got his own promo copy of the record.

  • shallowrewards


  • Feh Am Legend

    Um, well either they’re scrambling to save face or this is not the huge controversy you might want it to be. If you scroll down the page to previous reviews it’s right there under 11-16. There’s a (Taiwan) next to the title, so maybe that means something. I don’t know/care about x/- so I can’t be arsed to speculate further.

  • turdly

    that’s one of the main problems with pitchfork, the inconsistency of the writers. Some you are blessed to get, Nitsuh, M. Richardson, some you are FUCKED

    Marc Hogan, being the biggest trash talker of them all

  • Brian Raftery


    Could you re-post, and let me know if it disappears again? Neither Maura nor I have the permission (nor, in my case at least, the technical know-how) to delete a post, so it may have been some weird hiccup.

    The comments are weird–between slow-loading avatars and long-delayed entries, it’s the least predictable part of the whole site.

  • Maura Johnston

    we have a follow-up post.

  • GiantPanda

    so are pitchfork like the n.w.o./reptilian race of the online music community? and this is like a david icke write up of evidence to further promote the cause? sweet…

  • melikecheese

    ummm, did ANYONE read the second review. You claim pitchfork tried to hide the old review but hey theres a link RIGHT TO IT in the new review. Really, you look like you didnt fact check at all now. You say “Pitchfork decided to pull it off the site, removing all links and mentions; it’s like it didn’t even exist.” thats just not true. The link to the old review is in the new one, it is: