Reviews are the bread and butter of music journalism. Pretty much every promo email we get is asking for a review. Reviews are the first thing you expect when you find a new blog.
Pretend does not do reviews.
Why Doesn’t Pretend Do Reviews?
To lots of people this seems stupid but we feel this allows us to be more open with you (our dear reader) about the way we feature and promote new music.
Let’s say that we were to write a negative review of a release by an up and coming band or producer. They wouldn’t share it. As a small platform, we rely on the artists we feature to bring traffic to our site so if they’re not going to share it, then we don’t gain much by writing it. A lot of blogs operate in this way, there are countless independent music blogs reviewing music and one very rarely finds a negative review in this independent press. No one wants to upset anyone else by saying something negative when they are in this symbiotic relationship; musicians need good coverage to seem credible and indie blogs need musicians to bring traffic to their websites. This creates the feeling that the majority of the reviews on these sites are not genuine and all just serve the ultimate goal of “music marketing” and their destiny is to end up as the footnote to another press pack.
… the majority of the reviews on these sites are not genuine and all just serve the ultimate goal of “music marketing” and their destiny is to end up as the footnote to another press pack
There is also a question that looms over music reviews in 2021 and has done since the dawn of the streaming age: What is the point? You can listen to a piece of music more easily than you can find a review of it and so you don’t need someone else to tell you whether or not it’s good. There’s no additional cost to listening to new music any more so as long as you know it’s there, there really is no need for someone else’s opinion to shape your enjoyment.
This is not to say that criticism of music is not still vital, reviews do still have an important purpose in contextualising and providing deeper analysis of music but they aren’t needed to help you decide what’s worth your time any more. You can find great reviews from people like Anthony Fantano and in traditional, large scale, print publications that help you gain a deeper understanding of why you might feel a certain way about a track. Traditional print publications are in particular still important places for reviews because they have a “browsing audience” that isn’t reliant on social media algorithms to show people content they might be interested in and so there is the opportunity for genuine new music discovery in that context.
What do we do instead?
Reviews can be a way to help audiences discover new music but only if those people are already browsing the platform. While we don’t have that many people browsing our site we can better serve emerging and underground talent through features.
If you see a song on our playlists, an interview on our site, a video on our youtube channel, if you hear a DJ on our radio shows or see a band at one of our live shows then they are there because we think they’re great. We want you to join us in discovering new music and the stories behind underground and alternative scenes in the UK from established independent labels like Reckless Yes to emerging groups like Polarface. We really do believe that if you like one thing we feature, you might enjoy something we cover the next week.
Music reviews used to be tools to help you decide what CD to buy before you heard a record, now they are something you’ll often consume after already listening to the track they’re talking about. We want you to make up your own mind about the music we bring you and trust us to keep bringing you the best alternative and underground music the UK has to offer for years to come. This isn’t to say we won’t do reviews in the future, but we’ll only do them when we feel that it will benefit both ourselves and the artists we feature to be honest and critical.
We would love to hear from you! About your music, cool projects behind the scenes and other creative endeavours. If you want to get involved in what we do, again, we’d be excited to hear your ideas and help provide a platform for you to share them. All information about how to get in touch is on our contact page.