Pitchfork Has Officially Re-Rated Some Of Their Most Controversial Album Reviews
There's justice for 'Born To Die' fans, but Grimes fans won't be happy.
The whole process of giving out album scores is a fraught one. At best, it’s a way of reducing one very particular person’s opinion to a number. At worst, it’s an overly simplistic, capital-motivated form of PR.
After all, art is deeply subjective — all that a simple numerical rating tells you about is the person who handed out the rating, not the album itself. That’s fine — fun even — but it shouldn’t be trusted as any indication of the actual quality of the record under the microscope.
Then there’s those albums that duck away from easy ratings. What to give a record like Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, a work of art that defies every usual convention that leads something to be branded a masterpiece or trash? What to say about Lou Reed and Metallica’s endlessly fascinating, hopelessly broken Lulu? Or the work of the Shaggs? The binary between “good” and “bad” is an inherently false one, and the rating system only serves to artificially prop it up.
Which is why kudos must be paid to Pitchfork, that global tastemaker, which has decided to re-rate 19 of the albums it has already branded with a score.
Of course, the process of re-rating is its own way of propping up the score system. But at the very least, it shows a willingness to accept that these things change; that tastes update, and that albums look different in hindsight.
Most of the re-rating is a process of giving maligned records a second chance — PJ Harvey’s excellent Stories From the City, Stories From The Sea goes from 5.4 to 8.4; Prince’s Musicology goes from 5.8 to 7.8; and yes, Lana Del Rey’s game-changing Born to Die goes from 5.5. to 7.8.
But there is some downgrading going on too. Grimes’ Miss Anthropocene drops almost two points, from 8.2 to 6.9; and Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Ambassadors of Peace and Magic drops from 8.4 to 6.3.
Why not head over and read the list in full — it’s well worth your time, artificial ratings or not.