Mark Judge writes:
For the past several years my favorite band has been The Twilight Sad, a group from a small town in Scotland. The Twilight Sad mixes Scottish folk melodies with driving rock rhythms and swirling noise. The effect is both hypnotic and exhilarating; the songs delve into tragic themes: love lost, grief, death, betrayal and lies. This has earned the band’s style the nickname “Scottish miserablism” in the press. This is a cheap term that reveals secular bias of the entertainment press. Rock critics love anger, aggression, and rage; what they can’t tolerate or understand is the “swath of pure beauty and mystical awe” that Lester Bangs identified.
It is that holy swath that informs the best pop music, from the Beatles to ballads of Sam Smith, from the Catholic-saturated imagery of Bruce Springsteen’s songs to the dream world of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” It’s the God thing.
In his piece on poptimism, Chris Richards writes: “For a good critic, listening to a recording should be like a skeptical stroll around the new-car lot, not an unwrapping frenzy on Christmas morning.” He has it exactly backwards. Listening to a new pop music record should have exactly the anticipation of Christmas morning. Although if it turns out to be a truly great work, I would use a different example from the liturgical calendar to describe the experience: Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.