Sunday, November 02, 2003

The art of the mixed review

I just finished writing a review of Hilde Vanhove's "Insense" and was thinking how much more difficult it is to write a mixed review than an outright rave or pan. Throw into the mix the fact that this is a small, independent release and things become even more complicated (I feel that this aspect is relevant, but that's another debate).

I aim to maintain clear prose (not that I always succeed), while highlighting both the good and the bad. At least online I don't have to worry about a word-count, allowing me to convey a more complex view than can be squeezed into 2 square inches.

There's also the question of pacing: do you start with the negative, the positive or intertwine them? This is important because it can subtley convey whether or not you feel the album is, overall, worthwhile. For this review, I decided to close with a positive comment.

Finally, it always seems that negative reviews require more justification than positive ones (although I don't really agree with that), so a mixed review requires intricate justification of both negative and positive aspects.

I wonder how the reader reacts to such a review. Curiosity (maybe that depends on the above-mentioned justifications), dismissal (skip the possibly mediocre in favour of the raved-about) or something else?