Tips on how to not review the Jezabels’ second album

Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Music, Word on the P Street

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The Jezabels: The Brink

Dear the Internet,

Hayley Mary from the Jezabels isn’t fond of critics.

“Get a real job!” she opined to Music Feeds before complaining how no-one gets her or her music, specifically with regard to the less-than-stellar critical reception afforded to the band’s second album The Brink.

As someone who has been employed for the last 20 years almost entirely as a music critic, I’d like to point out that it is, in fact, a real job. And it’s a pretty great one, especially if you plan on dying of tinnitus and liver failure.

It’s odd that she cares about critics since she also claims in the interview that she never reads reviews – although that, of course, is a lie. It’s like writers saying they never read the comments. You’re fooling nobody.

But that’s a side issue. Here’s where Mary needs a little bit of straight talk:

“I just think there is too much hatred in the world to have a job that is based on writing off what other people try and do, unless that person is in a serious position of power. I don’t mind when people criticise politicians, or like the army or something.”

Now, leaving aside her difficult-to-support position that criticism of people is justified provided that they aren’t specifically her, there’s something that she – and every other person who has ever bitched and moaned about negative reviews – should keep in mind going forward. And it is this:

If you don’t want people to comment on what you’re doing, do it without letting anyone know.

That applies to making music, doing plays, cooking food, masturbating: literally everything.

For some areas of endeavour it’s problematic for people to notice what’s going on. The flourishing crime industry, for example, or maritime border control.

It’s not especially true of entertainment, though, since the business model actively requires other people to pay attention to what you’re doing. If you’re an entertainer and want no-one to form an opinion of your work, you’ve misunderstood the core concept.

In the case of the Jezabels, it’s also not as though they weren’t aware that their material was going to be assessed critically. The clue? As I am one of the hated music criterati, I can confirm that my inbox currently contains several emails about their album and forthcoming tour, sent to me by their publicists.

Since the Jezabels aren’t signed to a record label (they’re independent, with their albums distributed by MGM) this means that the band themselves paid human dollars to the very lovely folks at Two Fish Out Of Water (who recently merged with Secret Service) to a) tell critics the band had a new album out, b) to get copies of said album to those critics, and c) then encourage those critics to write and publish reviews of said album. Which might explain why that’s what they subsequently did.

So, in order that Hayley Mary need not worry about people accidentally reviewing her albums in future, I offer the following tips:

1. Don’t pay money to high-powered publicists with instructions to send your record to critics for the express purpose of reviewing them.

2. See 1.

They were apparently pretty great at Laneway, mind.

Yours ever,

APS