Sasha Frere-Jones writes at length about "Random Access Memories", while veering into various sub-topics of a broader cultural nature, on the New Yorker blogs. He casts some doubts on the negative portrayal of the effect of album leakage on record sales. He echoes what I wrote on these very pages about "Get Lucky" not so long ago. (Him: you can play it eight billion times without tiring of it. Me: even when you have heard it so many times that you never want to hear it again, you want to hear it again. Personally, I think I like mine better; but then I would say that. I wrote it.)
He also owns up to writing his New Yorker column on the album after having listened to it one time. I'm not sure how I feel about that. One expects New Yorker criticism to be actual reasoned criticism, not first impressions. (Is the magazine so caught up in the endless, blog-driven new-release rollercoaster? I wouldn't have thought so, and I certainly hope not.) Nevertheless, it is also surprising how well he dealt with it after such brief exposure, and how closely his conclusions, doubts, and confusions, mirror my own.
Also worth noting is how well the old dear (the New Yorker, that is) has, after a shaky start, come to grips with the new world of the Internet and how it might be used to enhance, rather than cannibalise, the paper-and-ink magazine. Apparently this is being reflected in overall subscription numbers (especially international; makes me proud), which is pleasing to those of us with a recurring wake-in-fright nightmare that any issue could be the last. Sasha's blog post, which largely explains, builds upon and to some extent questions what is cast in stone in the magazine itself, is a good example.
Well, kids, I think it's time to listen to "Get Lucky" for the eight-billion-and-first time. (Contains some of the smoothest moves you will ever see.)