People Change Their Minds

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?

16 thoughts on “People Change Their Minds”

  1. I have gone back and forth on Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky more than any album in recent memory. Initial response was “Meh” followed by “there ARE some pretty somgs here” to “I like the songs, just not the guitar solos” to finally “this isn’t my bag.” That may change in a year’s time, but that require my stumbling across the album and being in a different mindset. That’s entirely possible, of course.

    The the’s Dusk was a slow burner for me. I was blown away by Mind Bomb and so expectations were high and initially dashed, but that album still stands as a favorite for me now.

  2. I was like that with Weezer’s debut. I hated it a whole bunch, I’m pretty sure I was actually mad at it for what I saw as being really derivative of Pixies and Pavement, both of whom I was super into at the time. My then drummer, who has really good taste in music, kept insisting it was a great album and he eventually just wore me down. After a solid year or two of badmouthing it I think it’s now the most-played record I own, and the really strange thing is that I don’t hear the Pixies/Pavement thing at all anymore. I know it’s there because it used to be so glaring to me, but now I can’t hear it. Strange.

  3. I can’t really think of an album that I thought was pretty good and then faded, but the reverse list of albums that took me a while to get into is nearly endless, and includes just about all my favorites. It seems like the really good albums take some work.

  4. Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions and Manu Chao’s Clandestino didn’t really click with me at first. With the former, I had yet to warm up to hip-hop in the late ’80s; with the latter, so many friends w/good taste raved about Clandestino that I gave it many a chance and…nothing. But one day, out of the blue, I found myself enjoying it.

    On the other hand, Yes’ Relayer used to be my fave album of theirs until I recently heard it again. I still like it, but it’s FAR from the incredible record I once thought it was.

  5. I hosted The Marlboro Phussy Phatarski Variety Calvalcade in the 60’s. At one time I felt that there was only one Locomotion–Little Fuckin Eva.

    But I gotta admit over the years this Grand Funk has grown on me a bit.

  6. In Rainbows was probably the most recent for me. I listened to it nonstop for two or three weeks and then, suddenly, shelved it. Never felt the need to return to it.

    REM is actually the quintessential band for changing relationships with albums. I am constantly returning to this album, then that album, then leaving that album alone for a long time, with their entire catalog. I’m constantly re-ranking their output in my mind. For instance, I recently found Monster to be better than I’d remembered.

  7. Oh yeah, and the two latest Morrissey albums. I totally bought into (and perpetuated) the hype. They’re not that great. Some good songs, sure. But…well, not that great.

  8. I disliked Boxer when I first heard it and could barely make myself slog through the first 4 or 5 listens of my mandatory “every CD gets 10 tries” rule. By listen 10 I was liking it, and now I think it’s awesome.

    On the other hand, I loved Mirrored for a while, but now it seems…meh. Except for Atlas of course.

  9. I originally found Jim DeRogatis to be kind of an obnoxious turd. After spending more time reading him and listening to Sound Opinions, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s actually kind of an obnoxious turd.

  10. Recently, both the last Dungen and Wilco records had me rapt at first, and now I wonder what it was I thought I was hearing. I admire both, but nothing on them has me coming back for more.

  11. From DeRo’s original review:

    “It surely is no exaggeration to say that Berry’s departure was an even greater blow to R.E.M. than the deaths of Keith Moon and John Bonham were to the Who and Led Zeppelin; the latter were merely phenomenal drummers, while Berry was that as well as an astounding singer and songwriter.”

    “NO EXAGGERATION”?#*%^[email protected]*!?!?!?!

    “ASTOUNDING”? Really? By astounding, do you mean “decent?”

    I demand DeRogatis turn in his Rock Critic Card immediately. There’s only so much bullshit a person can handle.

  12. Cookie Mountain? Christ, the hype on that lame-ass record…

    It’s getting like the start of the 80s for me again, where I can’t even understand why people like what they like anymore.

  13. I experience a great deal of glee at knowing that Cookie Mountain has pretty much evaporated from everyone’s minds. I really wanted to like it when it came out, but I just didn’t. In fact I HATED that album, and was so flabbergasted by all the love it got.

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