Pitchfork Seems Unsure About Starting The “Back To Black”-Lash

Mar 28th, 2007 // 27 Comments

forkhouse.jpgA few months ago, when we read Pitchfork’s tirade-y description of a few Amy Winehouse singles–in which the singer is described as all-caps “TERRIBLE”–we figured the ‘Fork was officially declaring its anti-Amy stance. So when we saw that today’s Back To Black review bequeathed the album with a 6.4 grade (which is Pitchfork-speak for “s’okay, but get it off Oink”), we expected the write-up to bring at least a smidge of ruckus. Instead, it’s fairly glowing: Joshua Klein notes that the Winehouse “has been blessed by a brassy voice that can transform even mundane sentiments into powerful statements,” and praises the singer for “[imbuing] her music with a surprisingly genuine soulfulness.”

This thing reads like a 7.6–or maybe even an 8.0. So why the middling grade? Perhaps Pitchfork is waiting this one out, anxious to see if Winehouse will fall into the “liking pop is acceptable now” category (a la Timberlake). Or perhaps their ranking system is just as screwy as Rolling Stone.

Also, what’s up with the multiple s-bombs today? Is Peter Travers guest-editing?

Back To Black [Picthfork]

  1. ens3000

    Who gives a f-ck what Pitchfork has to say, especially about a record like this?

  2. tankboy

    I’m going with the Rolling Stone theory.

    Ryan, stay away from Jann!

  3. noamjamski

    You spoke the Pink One’s name! A pox upon us all!

  4. Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue

    Actually, the weirdest thing about the review is that it called Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen “larger-than-life singers.” Um, really? I like them both, but that seems awfully overboard–especially with the middling rating.

  5. joe bananas

    i mean, it could just be that Pitchfork has a bunch of diff. writers, and that the person who reviewed the single hates Winehouse while the person who reviewed the record kind of likes her.

  6. GiantPanda

    But that doesn’t discredit pitchfork, so NO WAY D00d

  7. konflictofinterest

    Oh Idolator…

  8. Brian Raftery

    @joe bananas: Gotcha. I understand that it’s a multitude of writers there, and that there’s really no company-line mentality. I was more surprised by how low the album score was compared to the write-up.

  9. Steak

    Yeah, they do have a pretty large stable of writers, but it seems the problem is that more and more they seem to be divorcing themselves from their writers’ articles (or the writers feel pressure to pay lip-service to Pitchforkmedia’s reputation as tastemakers) in favour of having a “voice”. For another example, see the almost-apologetic review for Tool’s (another Pitchfork whipping boy) “10,000 days”. Just speculation, but sometimes it seems like the case.

  10. revmatty

    “any album that features the word “fuckery” and laments missing a “Slick Rick gig” has an upper limit of soccer-mom appeal”

    I don’t think that’s actually true. There’s a whole lotta moms in the late 20′s to mid 30′s range who have a lot more edgy taste in music than the mainstream does. I live in the vast wasteland of flyover country, and half the moms in my daughters various playgroups have seriously awesome cd collections.

    Of course, the other half are as whitebread as they come, so I suppose there is an upper limit, but it might be a lot higher than you think it is.

  11. The Mozfather

    I think the big question will always remain: What exactly is the difference between a 6.3 and a 6.4?

  12. Bazooka Tooth

    @ SJC: I agree with you, if you weren’t being sarcastic. I don’t know why this place seems to have so much against the ‘Fork. They have brought me to numerous great bands.

  13. Darth Funk

    @ Aquemini: PFork clearly has an agenda to push: The Fountains of Wayne album that got a 3.0 could be a masterpiece for all we know, yet it was going to get that 3.0 no matter what. On the other hand, if the Panda Bear album consisted of an actual panda bear interpreting the songs of G.G. Allin on an oboe, it would still get a 9.4. This is just my opinion.

  14. Dr. Paul Proteus

    I kinda wondered if it had somethign to do with the fact that there seems to be a team winehouse/team allen battle going on these days and they’s choosin sides.

  15. Halfwit

    Brian, you’re my hero. Reading the Amy Winehouse review this morning, I thought “Damn, that’s a 7 or an 8 review”.

    I remember when I wrote reviews for my college paper, we didn’t actually have final say over the numeric rating. We’d write our thoughts, and the editor would gauge our emotions into a star rating. The same thing may be happening here, with all the editorial biases that come into play.

    Generally, I’m starting to give up on Pitchfork for how blatantly they’re trying to prove that they can make, and then destroy bands (see: Trail of Dead, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). Too many 9+ followed immediately by 5- reviews to be an honest response to the music itself.

  16. sarahrose

    @Steak: that tool album sucked so bad i can still hear it ringing in my ears like some soundtrack of suck. say what you want about pitchfork whipping on discs, but they were dead on with that one.

  17. joe bananas

    i seriously have no idea where or why you guys think Pitchfork has a vested interest in making some bands or breaking other. i don’t see what benefit that could be to them, other than some weird image collateral or cache that they…already have.

  18. joe bananas

    wow, bad syntax on my part in that last comment. late in the day…

  19. Jupiter8

    Hmmm, I haven’t decided if she’ll wind up being the new Courtney Love, Diana Krall, or post-sellout Liz Phair…at any rate, as good as her record may/may not be, I hear more about her than her music…

  20. stix

    She’s the Sienna Miller of music.

    i.e. we can expect to hear a lot about her (but probably not the music) for a long, long time.

  21. catdirt

    i heard this song during morning drive AGAIN this morning- on the alt rock station and the dj said “hey- don’t complaign because this song isn’t “rock” this channel is about diversity.” and then he played pearl jam after saying “if this sequence of songs was on your ipod. that sequence:
    amy winehouse-rehab
    pearl jam- alive

    i HOPE that song sequence never appears on MY ipod. if this is a team allen/team winehouse situation- i’d love to hear allen on the radio.

  22. catdirt


  23. We Don't Live in the 60s

    The review did seem a lot more positive than the rating. It’s honestly too bad that we hear so much about Amy Winehouse’s life rather than her music because she has a fantastic voice. In the Amy v. Lily battle, I’ll put my money on Miss Winehouse.

  24. We Don't Live in the 60s

    The review did seem a lot more positive than the rating. It’s honestly too bad that we hear so much about Amy Winehouse’s life rather than her music because she has a fantastic voice. In the Amy v. Lily battle, I’ll put my money on Miss Winehouse.

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