Indie thrush Joanna Newsom's faerie dust doesn't work on everyone
Now it is time to discuss the sylph-like harpist that is Joanna Newsom. Ms. Newsom’s 2004 debut, The Milk-Eyed Mender was the sort of album that elicited rapturous responses from twee indie boys nationwide, causing anyone with a predilection towards preciousness to drool all over their Belle and Sebastian t-shirts with praise. For example, Dave Eggers in Spin: “This music makes my heart feel stout, and enables me, with my eyes, to breathe fire.” Or Ben Gibbard on NPR’s website: “I have fallen in love with her music so deeply over the last three months that I can barely listen to her without being moved to tears.”
Now, I like Dave Eggers and Ben Gibbard. They’re good guys, both of whom at one time or another have made my heart feel stout and/or moved me to tears. I should have known better, though, because I bought Milk-Eyed Mender, listened to it twice, and then walked out and tossed it in the river, because I thought that would be a nice place for it to go to die. Like, maybe the album wanted me to toss it in the river, in an Ophelia sort of way. That’s what I got out of it, anyway: “Please, let me just go lie down in a river and die, somehow, without mussing my hair. Do you want the rest of my muffin?”
Newsom is back with a new album, Ys, which I heard a teensy bit of yesterday while hanging out in the office of my new best friend, EW senior editor Rob Brunner. It took me a minute to realize what we were listening to — at first I thought it was a hidden track off the Brigadoon soundtrack — but then I realized only one young lady possesses that specific combo of squeaky voice, antiquated tone, and ability to make my right eye twitch. The new album, as far as I can tell, is less “Throw me in the river” and more “Would you like to go to the ren fair?”, but it is no more up my alley than its predecessor. I give up. I cannot stand this music.
What say you, PopWatchers? Am I not being fair to the faerie? Or amI correct in saying that Joanna Newsom is basically Tori Amos for boys?To educate yourself, please read this Q&A (congrats, Pitchfork, on even making the Q&As pretentious!), watch this video, and listen to this track. Then come back and help me figure out why otherwise reasonable human beings find listening to this stuff pleasurable.
(NOTE: The answer, “Because despite being twee indie boys, theystill feel the testosterone-driven need to care for and protectsomething, preferably female and smaller than them, and Newsom soundslike a perfect candidate” is completely acceptable, but I’ve alreadythought of it.)