Two thousand eleven was the year in which musicians were praised for embracing their essences. M83 gets even more epic! Bradford Cox gets even more introverted! Drake gets Draker! The members of Wild Flag still rock!
Artists were also derided for the obvious: Odd Future proves they don't give a fuck! Yelawolf sells out! Dum Dum Girls get a production budget! But there was more to the story than folks were letting on. In fact, when it came to the below five albums the critics completely whiffed.
Why this album is overrated: Dan Bejar earned praise for making easy listening sax and synth pads “safe.” But not a song here is as full-bodied or satisfying as rival Bon Iver's cheeseball “Beth/Rest.” And Bejar's New Pornographers material smokes this — hasn't anyone listened to them back to back?
Why this album is underrated: Did anyone even review this? Sure the title and cover sucked. Sure he's out of fashion. But T-Pain is still gold. Despite having become something of a punchline, dude has never really fallen off — yet he's barely given credit for masterminding today's radio pop.
3. Real Estate
Why this album is overrated: Because laziness is not a virtue. Subtract the rapier wit of Luna and the hookcraft of Nada Surf and what do you have? According to critics, aimless jangle that is “psychedelic.” Real Estate fans are people who hate that Feelies and Yo La Tengo albums occasionally break into rock and roll. Turns out fans can be lazy too.
Audio, Video, Disco
Why this album is underrated: Pitchfork blasted this album for attempting prog-rock. But Justice actually solved prog's main irritant, doing away with lengthy excesses and time signature shifts. By adhering to the basic 4/4 house beat, Justice collapsed '70s bloat-rock into something digestible.
1. James Blake
Why this album is overrated: Because it ignores everything that was interesting about him! It's rhythmically arid, sonically drab and stingy with tunes. Blake's EPs bristled with strange, see-sawing beats and odd juxtapositions. Take those away and he's Beth Orton or fucking David Gray. These are bland murmurings overburdened with techno cred. Choose team fratstep.