Robert Christgau Remixed: (an excerpt from) The Consumed Guide

by Brian Joseph Davis

The Consumed Guide is a text composed from thousands of negative words and phrases assembled from 13,090 reviews by Robert Christgau and turned into a single review. More info here.

A genuine Rock Band caterwauling tunefully about Things That Matter. Sorta-indie demo album, sorta-major sorta-debut, a happy-to-ironic-to-credibly-sappy paean, a heroin album, a jam band for middle-aged neurotics who gather where most of their kind gather—their living rooms.

A Yurrupean plot. A great schlock yea-saying move, but a move is all it is. A credible representation of the avant-porn clichés that mean so much to them, a little too archetypal for my tastes. Adds that soupçon of shit. Ad-man phrasing histrionic flights, admired by a pretentious minority of an alt-rock subculture already way too full of itself, admired more for their correct aesthetics than for how they actually sound, adolescent petulance, tingling clits, no bass player.

Sorry punk-funk gone pop-jazz, all pomp, flash, male posturing, and sentimentality, this is now the Worst Band in the World. All shallow, all pure as a result, all the street credibility of a DONT WALK sign, all-purpose synthesizers, all-too-human guitarist, almost demands extraneous strings, almost-orgies deeply influenced by Hollywood costume drama. Amateur anarchohumanists, ambient postdance snoozemeister, American dumb, American post-rock cough cough hack hack movement ptooey ptooey, ampliclarification.
An argument for death metal, an aural totem, an education in mountain sensibility, an encouraging aberration, an evolution from bad poetry to obscure poetry, ancient formula for self-indulgent songpoetry, Anglodisco at its most solemnly expedient, Anglophilia’s favorite androids. Another Green World with a chip on its shoulder, sort of.

Authoritative blackboard-screechy throat, autodoowop, avant-bigots, awkward fripperies. Baroque, frantically mechanical evocation of compulsive sex. Bat-garages of L.A., bathed the unwashed in the blood of the synthesizer, bathtubs full of demijazz, drenching this self-aggrandizing and no doubt hitbound project in a whole new dimension of phony class, beating the shit out of Boston and Ted Nugent and Blue Oyster Cult.

Better advertisement for middle-aged sex than Dynasty, between the cello and the acoustic guitar and the moderato and the lyric sheet that ought to have a little typeface note like at the end of a Borzoi book, I find myself disliking their record intensely.
Big, every-hair-in-place production, bitch bitch bitch, bloat bloat bloat, blandout, blokelike croak, burlesqued melodrama, Bluroraimeemann, Bluroroasisoraimeemann, bored Gang of Four, boring rehab, Brian Eno-sponsored, bright and shiny as a new cliché, brutal guitar machine thousands of lonely adolescent cowards have heard in their heads.

Christian/satanist/liberal murk, Christofascism, chronic fatuosos, clever pop-punk amalgam boasting two drummers, lots of chanting. Clods have feelings too.

Closet prog, collapsing new sound effects, collegiate existentialism nostalgia, comfy-funk bass, space-age sound effects, commendable filler-plus, commendable postpunk feminism, commercial desperation, commercial panic, committed dementia. Compassionately bitchy exposés of bedsitter hedonism and suburban, completely stiff, conflicted guitars, connected to the pop firmament, consciously antipopular, conservatory application, conservatory-trained goo. Constitutionally protected decision to dabble in the usages of drum’n’bass.

Countrypolitan, covert totalitarian structures have taken on a playful undertone. Cringe with dismay at the survival of a generation. I respect their synthesizer textures in theory.

Blackhearts as Descendents or vice versa—10 years late it’s hard to tell. Crudely insistent, crunch crunch crunch,  riff riff riff, cushiony electrodance, customized Penismobile. Cyborgs can grate on the ears, and I bet they don’t suck dick that good either.  Deep funk versus jibber-jabber, dick versus diarrhea, deep organ funk, deeply cynical, deeply tuneful, delusional in a nice way, dense and nutty, dense wordplay poised on the dizzying edge of parody, deploys a multihued battalion of respected professionals into wave upon wave of overkill. I rarely crave ambient technohorror, even when it has lead drum parts.

Disgusting because it’s heartfelt, diverting placebos, dock this a notch for incipient pretensions and general meaninglessness, docked a notch for clothes sense, docked a notch for their taste in personas, docked a notch for time: 28.58.

Conveys what a bummer it is to struggle fruitlessly with your own political impotence, cool-to-gnomic, could no more make a “grunge” album than they could do double-entry bookkeeping. Drum-hooked fucksong, dubious predecessors, dumb little songs with dumb little lyrics and dumb little hooks, dumb, yes. Samey, still. I still don’t believe humans bought these songs because they liked them.
Dying in stereo, nothing left to say.

Earnest post-rock tripe, electric roar as acne remedy, emailed-in beats, emotional incompetents out of their depth, enough electronic marginal distinction to feed a coal town for a month. Marred by a kind of cute funkiness. Masters of unreality.

Brian Joseph Davis is the author of Portable Altamont, a collection that garnered praise from Spin magazine for its “elegant, wise-ass rush of truth, hiding riotous social commentary in slanderous jokes.”  Slate called his novel I, Tania, “The book of your fever dreams.” A co-founder of the literary website Joyland, his short stories have been collected recently in Ronald Reagan, My Father and included in Against Expression: An anthology of conceptual writing (Northwestern University Press). He’s written for Utne, The Globe and Mail and The Believer (forthcoming). He lives in Brooklyn.