Hoezodanbooks's Reviews > Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past

Retromania by Simon Reynolds
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's review
Nov 04, 2011

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bookshelves: music-books, 2010s
Read from September 12 to November 04, 2011

I like Simon Reynolds' books, but this one is a disappointment. Although his writing style is quality as always, he is this time not so much writing about music itself (groups, tunes, albums etc.) but is writing about writing about music. Still no problem there, only that he just doesn't deliver the answers, but mainly is posing a lot of questions using tons of Amazon forest. Because of the lack of answers Retromania seems at times to be about name-dropping, although I'm sure it's not on purpose. But in a way it sometimes reads like a tale from a rock journalist who once had an almost divine final saying on every release...those days are gone....those days won't come back (that's some progress isn't it?). The classic rock writer as cultural curator is gone; everybody owns a blog.

Sometimes he's (probably) consciously ignoring things: sixties / early 70s was THE era of the cover (everybody was covering everybody basically), that's some retro, isn't it? And how about the decline of the music industry in the 2000s, that lead to an incredible (and quite) cheap re-issuing of releases? That's a economic reason, not a arty one. And above all: why should we connect future and rock music in the first place?

I enjoyed Reynolds' Energy Flash a lot; up till the point he was writing about the now & future (the last chapters). While his writing on the past (Post-Punk for example) is beautiful, meaningful and filled with passion, his writing on the future (he is a SF fan by the way) is mediocre: his construction of the now and future is unoriginal and something you heard many times better elsewhere (he is referencing a lot to other thinkers, writers, etc.)

The funny thing is this book is best when it's dealing with the past (Part 2 'Then').
But I'm sure though that he will deliver a better book in the big 'F'.

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