Airborne Toxic Event Vs. Pitchfork



Meow! Somebody got a
new asshole ripped last night!

By Blurt Staff


It’s The Thing That Dare Not Utter Its Name: a bad record review. No sooner had Pitchfork posted a 1.6-rating review of
Airborne Toxic Event’s self-titled album yesterday (sample entry: “… sounding
more inspired by market research than actual inspiration. Congrats, Pitchfork
reader– the Airborne Toxic Event thinks you’re a demographic.”) than the L.A. band had fired off a
scathing An Open Letter To Pitchfork via its publicist.


The letter can be viewed at the band’s official website, but
since we snagged a copy of it off the recycle bin in the alley behind the BLURT
compound this morning we’re taking the liberty of reproducing it in full below.
Let’s watch those thin skins, guys.


Meanwhile, you can also read BLURT’s review of the album
HERE. And we’re taking bets via our bookie service whether or not Pitchfork
prints the letter. Currently the odds are running 3:1 in favor of yes – but
with the reviewer’s snarky rejoinders included, since rock critics tend to want
to get in the last word (solicited or not).





An Open Letter to PItchfork Media from the Airborne
Toxic Event



Dear Ian,


Thanks for your review of our record. It’s clear that you
are a good writer and it’s clear that you took a lot of time giving us a
thorough slagging on the site. We are fans of Pitchfork.  And it’s fun
to slag off bands. It’s like a sport — kind of part of the deal when you
decide to be in a rock band. (That review of Jet where the monkey pees in his
own mouth was about the funniest piece of band-slagging we’ve ever


We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too
seriously. For one, they tend to involve a whole lot of projection, generally
saying more about the writer than the band. Sort of a musical Rorschach test.
And for another, reading them makes you too damned self-conscious, like the
world is looking over your shoulder when the truth is you’re not a genius or
a moron. You’re just a person in a band.


Plus, the variation of opinions on our record has bordered
on absurd. Most of what’s been said has been positive, a few reviews have
been on the fence and a few (such as yours) have been aggressively harsh. We
tend not to put a lot of stock in this stuff, but the sheer disagreement of
opinion makes for fascinating (if not a bit narcissistic) reading.


And anyway we have to admit that we found ourselves oddly
flattered by your review. I mean, 1.6? That is not faint praise. That
is not a humdrum slagging. That is serious fist-pounding, shoe-stomping
anger. Many publications said this was among the best records of the year.
You seem to think it’s among the worst. That is so much better than faint


You compare us to a lot of really great bands (Arcade
Fire, the National, Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen) and even if your
intention was to cut us down, you end up describing us as: “lyrically
moody, musically sumptuous and dramatic.” One is left only to conclude
that you m ust think those things are bad.


We love indie rock and we know full well that Pitchfork
doesn’t so much critique bands as critique a band’s ability to match a
certain indie rock aesthetic. We don’t match it. It’s true that the events
described in these songs really happened. It’s true we wrote about them in
ways that make us look bad. (Sometimes in life you are the hero, and
sometimes, you are the limp-dicked cuckold. Sometimes your screaming about
your worst fears, your most trite jealousies. Such is life.) It’s also true
that the record isn’t ironic or quirky or fey or disinterested or buried
beneath mountains of guitar noodling. 


As writers, we admire your tenacity and commitment to your
tone (even though you do go too far with your assumptions about us). You’re
wrong about our intentions, you’re wrong about how this band came together,
you don’t seem to get the storytelling or the catharsis or the humor in the
songs, and you clearly have some misconceptions about who we are as a band
and who we are as people.


But it also seems to have very little to do with us. Much
of your piece reads less like a record review and more like a diatribe
against a set of ill-considered and borderline offensive preconceptions about
Los Angeles. Los Angeles has an extremely vibrant blogging community,
Silver Lake is a very close-knit scene of
bands. We’re one of them. We cut our teeth at Spaceland and the Echo and have
nothing to do with whatever wayward ideas you have about the Sunset Strip.
That’s just bad journalism.


But that is the nature of this sort of thing. It’s always
based on incomplete information. Pitchfork has slagged many, many bands we
admire (Dr. Dog, the Flaming Lips, Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Black
Kids, Bright Eyes [ironic, no?] just to name a few), so now we’re among them.


This band was borne of some very very dark days and the
truth is that there is something exciting about just being part of this kind
of thing. There’s this long history of dialog between bands and writers, NME
ripping apart the Cure or Rolling Stone refusing to write about Led Zeppelin
— so it’s a bit of a thrill that you have such a20strong opinion about us.


We hear you live in Los
Angeles. We’d love for you to come to a show
sometime and see what we’re doing with these lyrically moody and dramatic
songs. We’re serious about this stuff. You seem like a true believer when it
comes to music and writing so we honestly think we can’t be too far apart. In
any case, it would make for a good story.


all our best–


Mikel, Steven, Anna, Daren, Noah

the Airborne Toxic Event



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