Monday, September 19, 2005

Portastatic / Bright Ideas / Rating 6.9

Sometimes I can say nice things.

Brandon Stosuy has written perhaps one of the best PFM indie rock reviews I have read all year long…and as some of you might guess, I’ve read about 98.6999% of them so that’s really saying something.

First off, maybe I am giving Mac McCaughan too much power but considering his connections to Superchunk and Merge Records, in some circles that is considered indie rock royalty and in turn a difficult artist to review without some kind of subconscious bias.

Secondly I think it’s a challenge to talk about a record people are not necessarily dying to hear or waiting to see what the press have to say about it. Not to downplay Portastatic’s popularity but I am willing to take bets that more people read the Death Cab review.

Either way Bright Ideas is intelligently dissected and the opening paragraph alone shows a pleasantly surprising focus on the not so obvious. It might be a little too English class 101 for some people but its nice to read a PFM review that doesn't sound like fresh out of college bar stool gossip or a publisist's puppet on a typewriter.

The opener:

“In one sense, Mac McCaughan's repetitions are a key to his longevity. Structurally, he makes excellent use of run-on sentences for exclamatory emphasis; doubled lines (or more often quadrupled hiccups) propel his best songs. The oldie "My Noise" jumps with a row of fluctuating "It"'s: "It rides beside me/ It has no choice/ It's my life/ It is my voice/ It is stupid/ It is my noise." This sort of stutter pops up time and again in McCaughan's back catalogue, and judging from Bright Ideas, the sixth Portastatic full-length in 13 years, he wisely avoids a Mouldian aim at mid-career eclecticism, and continues the practice.”

Damn that’s good stuff.

This isn’t a record that will chart indie retail shop’s top 10 (except for maybe the Chapel Hill area) but for anyone who knows anything about Mac’s contributions to underground community will know this review was written with knowledge, care and accuracy.

For once the rating also reflects the opinions found in body of work below it so in the context of Brandon’s piece, a 6.9 rating makes sense and reflects both its winning and failing attributes.
I got nothing’ to add… the PFM review says it all and says it well.

( This is also perfect to follow up the John Vanderslice review as Bright Ideas was recorded at Tiny Telephone)