Pitch Perfect: The History and Influence of the Pitchfork 10.0

“Ah, fuck, shit, ahhhhh,” groans Fiona Apple, flubbing a line amid the hypnotic junk-drawer clatter of “On I Go,” and maybe it’s here, with only 70 seconds to go on the last song, where her first new album in eight years finally achieves perfection. Apple is an immensely beloved figure, and an avatar for turning self-quarantined unease into ferocious transcendence, and the mid-April release of Fetch the Bolt Cutters, only her fifth full-length in a nearly 25-year career, was bound to trigger a critical rapture so intense that it has already inspired at least one think piece about the profound alienation of not liking it. But the record, in all its chaotic focus and feral tenderness, still got one unexpected reaction: It inspired the first real-time Pitchfork 10. 0 review in almost a decade. “The very sound of Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” wrote contributing editor Jenn Pelly on the album’s April 15 release day, “dismantles patriarchal ideas: professionalism, smoothness, competition, perfection—aesthetic standards that are tools of capitalism, used to warp our senses of self. ” Pitchfork, the most vital and polarizing rock-critic publication of its era, itself dates back to the mid-’90s, and has mutated a solid half-dozen times at least, from one-man online zine to multimillion-dollar Condé Nast publication, from disruptor to standard-bearer, its base of operations shifting from Minnesota to Chicago to its current NYC offices in One World Trade Center.

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