Purple prose and band profiles: eternally entwined

26 Apr

Apparently it is impossible to write a band profile — really, any long-form piece about music — without unleashing some eye-rolling purple prose. Here is a doozy, from the recent NYT Magazine feature on The National:

“The air smelled of unchanged flannel shirts and uneasy expectations.”

Ah yes, the familiar aroma of unease. I can practically smell it now.

It doesn’t end there. Like every other music profile, the very best part of the article is when the author tries to describe the band’s sound through words. To my knowledge, the results of such attempts have never not been awful, and typically result in hella LOLs from the readership. Case in point:

“The National sound has a layered, seductive quality that is filled with intimate male feeling and uneasy cinematic portent: a storm coming up outside the window; leaves blowing in the road.”

Can’t you just hear it? Yes, you can. Thank you, feature writer, for your spot-on description of the band’s unique sound. Your job here is done; feel free to go back to what you were doing, which I assume was furiously humping your thesaurus.

Snark aside, if you’re able to look past the occasionally overwrought language, the article isn’t half bad, and is definitely worth the time of anyone interested in the music-making process. It is about The National, after all.

(Related note: the profile reminded me of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the documentary about Wilco’s recording of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” A solid film that deserves a spot on your queue.)

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One Response to “Purple prose and band profiles: eternally entwined”

  1. RandBall's Stu April 27, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    I’m going to guess that the “Justin from Wisconsin” singing ethereal backing vocals is that sad bastard Bon Iver guy.

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