Does time alter perception? Can your view on an album change? In some cases yes, but it appears that Pitchfork’s consideration toward Greta Van Fleet‘s 2018 debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, has not wavered over time. The site’s Reviews Editor Jeremy Larson and Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel revealed as much during a Pitchfork podcast in which the discussion turned to the lowest reviewed albums from the site.
Over the years, Pitchfork has earned a reputation for their frank candor when it comes to assessing albums, and their scathing 2018 rebuke of Anthem of the Peaceful Army included a 1.6 out of 10 review score.
Larson called the record’s entire second half as alternating “between the ignorable and unforgivable.” He added, “[Greta Van Fleet] care so deeply and are so precious with their half-baked boomer fetishism, they mollycoddled every impulse of late-’60s rock ‘n’ roll into an interminable 49-minute drag. Each song here could be written or played by any of a thousand classic rock cover bands that have standing gigs at sports bars and biker joints across America (the same venues where Greta Van Fleet cut their teeth when they were kids).”
As you might expect, the review was met with plenty of backlash by those who felt the harshness of the review was unwarranted. One commenter on social media called it “one of the most pretentious things I’ve ever read,” while another offered, “This review took the wind out of me. A devastating takedown.”
Despite the review, the album did find its audience with the songs “When the Curtain Falls” and “You’re the One” both topping the Mainstream Rock Chart, while the third single “Lover, Leaver” climbed to No. 3. The album itself reached gold sales status in Canada and Italy, while surpassing platinum status in Poland and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart stateside.
That said, time hasn’t altered the perception of the album by the reviewer or the site, as Larson and Patel revealed in their podcast.
While speaking out on some of the “zero” reviews the site has given over the years and why there hasn’t been one in quite some time, Larson explained, “I don’t think we have the critical language to say that the music we’re talking about now is, like, so utterly toxic that it should not be even engaged with.”
Patel countered, “That said, our lowest score during my tenure was an album you also reviewed, which was Greta Van Fleet’s album, which clocked in at a 1.6 and then I think more recently Jack Harlow’s album, Come Home the Kids Miss You got a 2.9 and I think both of those scores are exactly right.”
Larson succinctly responded, “No notes on those.”
“Instagram just showed me a picture of two people front row at a Greta Van Fleet concert holding up a sign that said, ‘We teepeed Jeremy Larson’s house,'” recalled Larson in reflecting on the reaction to his review. But he added, “Those are the low ones but I don’t think we lowballed any of them.”
Now five years removed from the album’s initial arrival, how do you feel about the record? Was the Pitchfork review on the nose or too harsh? Did the early hype or eventual backlash on the band affect your enjoyment of the record? Having plenty of time to sit with the album, what would be your review now?