List of things I attempted and failed to do instead of reviewing this album again:
What I’m going to do, then, is just repost my review from AU when the album was initially released and talk a little bit about it:
I like that review. It says everything I would end up saying at great length here. When I submitted it, I had a conversation with Chris Jones, the editor of AU, about the score I wanted to give the record. I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning it, but I think it might be interesting and I don’t think it reflects badly on either of us. I was pushing for a 9 initially, but he reminded that me that giving it a 9 meant that AU would have to look to stick by that, at the end of the year for example. I was speaking for the magazine rather than myself, saying that it was genuinely a great record. I suspect, also, that having heard the record himself, he felt like I was overshooting a little. He didn’t push it, either, he just raised it with me.
I got what he was saying. I’ve been aware of the general trend towards overrating Irish music in the native media for as long as I’ve been paying attention to the native media’s coverage of Irish music. And I didn’t come to the album blind. I have all the seven inches too. I’d seen these songs live over and over again. When I heard the songs on the record, they were instantly recognisable to me. Yeah Nothing wasn’t just an album in a critical vacuum to me as I reviewed it. It was the LP that a band I’d already come to really like ended up putting out. I thought about it, and I thought, yeah, you have a point. Maybe an 8.
Because there’s nothing particularly new or awe-inspiring about Yeah Nothing. I have friends that listened to it once, thought ‘derivative’ and then shelved it on iTunes potentially forever. I wasn’t even sure I could expect a large percentage of people to listen to it and hear what I heard, even if that was something people did. For the purposes of AU, it was an 8/10, a genre album the reviewer thought was really good and catchy. It wasn’t going to change anyone’s world view.
For me though, it was a 9/10. It was obviously better than other Irish indie pop albums put out in 2011, even though many of them were very good in their own right. The songwriting was more rounded and more confident, the hooks were better, the songs could play with emotions and it was fun, in a specific type of way that I can’t help but love in music. It was better than pretty much every non-Irish indie pop album for me too, for the same reasons. A lot of the best American and English indie pop is plagued by either a dead-eyed detachment or an earnestness that’s a little off-putting whether or not it’s affected with irony.
Yeah Nothing has an inner personality that insulates it from that and makes it relatable straight away. And, like I said, I’d had those songs beaten into me already. I was just happy to have them all together. At some point since August, every single track on the album has been the one I’ve skipped to while walking around. If I was worried, in that conversation with Chris, that I’d end up revising my own opinion downwards as time went by, I needn’t have been. It was an 8 for AU purposes, it was and still is a 9 for mine, and it’s the sixth best album of the year.
And that is the end of this insight into the machinations of the Irish music press and also the way I sort music in my mind and the boring and annoying level of seriousness to my thought processes. Yeah Nothing is great, listen to it.
Squarehead – I Wanna Hold Your Hand Download: n5o6wmrwk3