I noticed that the new Glen Campbell album, which I panned below, is getting fairly decent reviews on Metacritic, which conducts a survey of reviews of prominent music journals. The ‘meta’ rating, and most of the ratings used to supply the ‘meta’ rating, are unreliable, nay worthless.
To give you an example: take the recent reviews down the left hand side of the page. There are 166 records on display there. Of these, 141 receive a metascore rating of >60, which means generally favourable reviews. That means, according to Metacritic, that a whopping 85% of the content is good stuff! In which case, if Metacritic is in any way reliable, that means we’re living in a golden age for popular music.
Of course, the figure is total bullshit, as confirmed by the presence of Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue up near the top. I couldn’t believe the raving crap that got written about this album, which has a couple of decent tracks (Moonshine, Rainbows), a couple of outstanding ones (River Song, Thoughts of You) and a load of filler with embarassingly bad lyrics (Pacific Ocean Blues: ‘We live on the edge of a body of water/Warmed by the blood of the cold hearted/Slaughter of otter/Wonder how she feels mother seal’).
From the pseuds’ corner end of the spectrum, Richard Williams in the Guardian praised the ‘strategic use of banjo‘, ‘textures and densities constantly in flux’ and ‘quasi-Dixieland collective polyphony…almost cinematic in effect, conceptually well ahead of anything else being attempted at the time.’
And The Sun gave it 5 stars too, describing Dennis Wilson as a genius.
The principal appeal of Dennis Wilson is the fact that he took loads of drugs, drank the head off himself, had sex with lots of women and hung out with the Manson family, and still managed to write the odd decent tune (Slip On Through, for instance, on the Beach Boys’ Sunflower album, is superb) and remain reasonably good-looking. Brian Wilson -who really was a genius- by contrast turned into a big fat mad beardy pig and therefore not an aspirational icon for the type of people Steven Wells describes as ‘he least rock’n’roll creatures on the planet – balding white suburbanites with mortgages, unhappy marriages, huge stomachs and enormous, carefully annotated vinyl and CD collections‘.