When people say “album xyz is difficult” what they most likely mean is that album xyz is annoying or grating or otherwise “not fun.” Sometimes this is a subtle way of telling someone that they’re not actually going to like a certain band, avoiding the reflexive combat instinct some folk display when someone tells them “you will not enjoy this.” That reaction probably stems from an underlying sense that when someone says “you will not enjoy this,” what they’re really saying is “you are too stupid and uncultured to enjoy this.”
While that attitude is embarrassingly foolish – you are not made better or worse by the music you like any more than the core of your being is actually touched by the clothes you wear – it is also driven by elitism’s deformed twin, anti-intellectualism. After all, if something isn’t immediately understood, it’s obviously being difficult on purpose, right? Someone can’t possibly follow their heart to a weird conclusion of tiny, private sounds or long stretches of feedback or 12-tone plonk. It must be meant to offend, to annoy, or to otherwise throw a curveball at the terminally straightforward.
Of course, if that is what they’re actually doing – if the intent is really just to annoy – all that can be invoked is a hearty and heartfelt “so what?” But where’s the fun in that?
Everywhere. Continue reading