Chicago Sun-Times/Sound Opinions pop music critic Jim DeRogatis gets called out by a reader for recently calling R.E.M.‘s Around the Sun “dreadfully dull” when he originally called it their “best new album since the early 90s.” DeRo responds: Reserving the right to change my mind (on R.E.M. or anything else).
Critics aren’t really any different than fans — that’s why we became critics, because of our passion for music — and I have been an R.E.M. fan since 1981. I very much want any new recording from the band to match the brilliance of the music it released from ’81 through “Automatic for the People” in 1992. Very little of it has, though at first it has often seemed to.
As a critic, you receive an album advance a week or two before its release (at best; other times, you get it the day before). You listen as many times as possible, and then you present your emotional reaction in the intellectual form of a written review. (Some people would say there’s very little intellect involved with some critics, but you know what I mean, I hope.)
After that, like any other fan, you live with that album for two weeks, two months, two years… and sometimes your opinion changes. Sometimes, you realize, “This just isn’t holding up.”
Which albums have you been swept up by only to realize a little later that they aren’t that great? How about the other way around? Which albums took a while to sink in?