Photo: Alberto Van Stokkum via Sonic PR
The self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics," Robert Christgau was one of the pioneers of music criticism as we know it—the music editor of the Village Voice from 1974 to 1985 and its chief music critic for several decades after that. At the Voice he created both the annual Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll and his monthly Consumer Guides. Christgau was one of the first critics to write about hip-hop and the only one to review Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water with one word: "Melodic." He taught at New York University between 1990 and 2016, and has published six books, including his 2015 memoir Going Into the City . A seventh, Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017, will be available from Duke University Press in October. Every Friday we run Expert Witness, the weekly version of the Consumer Guide he launched in 2010. To find out more, read his welcome post; for almost five decades of critical reviews, check out his regularly updated website.
Hinds: I Don't Run (Mom + Pop) Think of Hinds as the anti-Beach House. Where Victoria Legrand's cool continental tease gets more detached and high-handed as her brand matoors, the Madrid foursome want to be liked. So they play the girl group, deploying chops that recall the early Breeders to power a goofy insouciance that beefs up the spirit of the Chiffons and the Cookies. All into their twenties by now, they make no pretence to innocence, because by now they're not just club kids—they're club kids who've seen the world no matter how unpolished their English. But they're also good-hearted going on kind, and although they'd rather hitch up with someone who doesn't get night sweats or bang another baby when they're not looking, they remain in the love hunt as a matter of principle. A MINUS
Bali Baby: Baylor Swift (Twin) The sex-positive young Dirty South battle rapper makes sure you know this is her pop move with a title search engines consider a typo. By pop she means vulnerable, sometimes playful, sometimes even loony-toony, with emo-ish lyrics in the manner of the simultaneously pained and drawled "You got me feeling so lost/Sitting out here solo/Keep checking my phone." Both her musical execution and her marketing strategy favor a beguilingly silly charm. The hookfest begins with the aptly entitled "Introduction": squelchy three-note synth hook over and over under lyrics that begin "Ha, ha, ha/Mwah!/I said `Hi, it's nice to meetcha." A MINUSKali Uchis: Isolation (Virgin EMI) "Everything is just wonderful here in my dreams, here in my dreams" ("Just a Stranger," "Killer") ***Primo!: Amici (Polyester) Modest band posits small solutions for young women pursuing busy lives ("You've Got a Million," "Bronte Blues") *Follow Robert Christgau on Twitter.