Once upon a time there was a music magazine called Word and a bloody good music magazine it was too.
In fact, I would put it to you that it was more than a music magazine; it was a lifestyle magazine for people who happened to like music. Well, happened to really like music. Towards the back of each edition – as is the way with most music magazines, you would find the reviews section.
However, what was different about this particular publication’s approach to reviews was that it didn’t subscribe to the whole star system: one star for truly appalling nonsense; five stars for a piece of virtuosic mastery.
It let you make your own mind up, having offered a reasonable case for the defence (or prosecution).
Most reviews, in the opinion of David Hepworth from Word – be they favourable or otherwise – could ultimately boil down to “all right if you like that kind of thing”. And that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Everything from The Beatles down to 90s teeny rapper sensation Kris Kross can actually be described as “all right if you like that kind of thing” (and, therefore, mind bogglingly awful if you don’t).
All of which makes the whole point of charts and the allocation of stars in reviews pretty meaningless.
End of year best ofs seem to be particularly meaningless. Without fail an act proclaimed as the best thing out this year is almost immediately forgotten. Last year, for example, Uncut accorded the honour of Album of the Year to The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream. The Times and BBC 6 Music did the same. For Mojo and The Guardian it was second best.
I bought it and found that for all the blather about it being ethereally wonderful, every song on the album sounded like Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’. Every last one of ’em.
And so I resolved never to pay any attention to such listings ever again. So there must be some other reason why I ended up buying Julia Holter’s Have You in my Wilderness (Uncut, Mojo and Line of Best Fit‘s Album of the Year) the other week. I’ll just have to think of one…
I’m such a mug.
And so, tempting as it is to try to put together a list, in increasing order of magnificence, of 2015’s long player offerings, I don’t think I’ll bother. Instead, I’ll just ramble on a bit about stuff that caught my eye – or, more appropriately, ear – over the last twelve months and just hope I don’t bore you too much.