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SWAGGER, NOT STYLE

The worldwide headquarters and hindquarters of freelance writer Chris Klimek

A . . . Masterpiece!

Chris Klimek

One of the things I lament about the steep drop-off in newspaper movie ads -- aside from the obvious, which is that it's hurt newspapers I'd like to see survive -- is that we're not seeing as many ads wherein studio publicists dig deep to find reliably nearsighted pseudo-critics whose endorsements of shit like Old Dogs or the punctuation-offending Law Abiding Citizen they can quote. I always wondered if the people putting these ads together actually believed that anyone inclined to plan their weekend around a screening of Leap Year cares what film critics have to say.

I like it even better when publicists take real critics' words completely out of context. I've been pull-quoted myself once or twice, but wouldn't you know it, my meaning has always been preserved intact.

Publicists practice context-ignoring pull-quotery all the time, I know. But to me, at least, it never fails to amuse.

So I'm reviewing Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas's 9:30 Club gig for the Post tonight. In the press release announcing Casablancas's first round of tour dates, this fragment of ostensible praise for Casablancas's album Phrazes for the Young caught my eye:

. . . and The Washington Post calls it " . . . masterpiece of interlocking parts."

Makes sense to me. The author of the sentence excerpted there -- who turns out to be WashPo staff writer and blogger David Malitz, a fine, credible critic who also sometimes edits my stuff -- must have meant that the eight songs on the album fit together masterfully to build a cohesive whole, right?

Er, no. Maltiz's full "Quick Spins" review from last November is mixed to negative. Graf three begins:

The less said about the rest of the album, the better. It gets ugly quickly, and with each of the final five tracks topping the five-minute mark, feels truly interminable.

To cherry-pick adjectives from the remainder of the piece: "miserable," "dull," "annoying," "endless." Yeeouch.

However, graf 2 beginneth thus:

Opener "Out of the Blue" allays any fears that Casablancas has lost his songwriting touch. Like the finest Strokes songs, it's a masterpiece of interlocking parts -- a chugging guitar riff serves as the steady base but it's when the lead guitar and keyboard are sprinkled on top during the chorus that things really take off.

So Malitz did call it -- the first song, not the whole album -- "a masterpiece of interlocking parts." The flack didn't obscure his actual words, only his intent. Stay classy, flack industry!