The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fanto Gives His Sixth 10/10 Album Review In His Over 10-Year-Long Career as a Music Critic
Prior to 2021, the albums that have received the acclaimed score of 10/10 are
The Money Store by Death Grips (2012)
To Be Kind by Swans (2014)
To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar (2015)
Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts (Kanye West & Kid Cudi) (2018)
And You Won’t Get What You Want by Daughters (2018)
Now added to the list is singer/songwriter and composer, Spellling, with her new album The Turning Wheel. Spellling –with 3 L’s– also known as Chrystia Cabral, is an unsuspecting name to be added to the list of artists with such acclaim. Nonetheless, Spellling and her list of many musicians who contributed to this project under her instruction, are qualified to score a review like this.
But the question is, should this album be a 10/10? Anthony Fantano has been known to have controversial takes. This has been shown on his shocking 6/10 review of Kanye’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and high scores on more avant-garde projects like Daughters 2018 album You Won’t Get What You Want. I think it’s fair to say that most people would agree with or at least understand the 10/10 review for albums like To Pimp a Butterfly, but what about this new album The Turning Wheel by Spelling?
Through observation, I have noticed that Fantano tends to score albums like tests; an album starts as a 10/10 and gets points deducted for faults, errors, imperfections, or shortcomings. If everyone would listen to music this way, then this album is undoubtedly a 10/10. The Turning Wheel is literally a flawless album. Each song is easily digestible, the instrumentation is grandiose and mixed beautifully, the lyrics are extremely powerful and clever, the album as a whole is concise and Spellling’s vocal performances are impressive.
But does it stand to say that having no imperfections makes something good? For most of this album, I’d say yes this is true. Songs like Boys at School, Legacy, and Revolution are not only exquisite but captivating to listen to. Unfortunately, I can’t say that about every song on the tracklist. Let me once more emphasize that there is not a single flaw on this album. This goes without saying no songs weren’t good listens, but not every song had that it factor. Listening to this album, there were not many moments where I thought to share a song with a friend or add it to a playlist. I was able to admire the brilliance in each vocal passage and layer of instrumentation that guides listeners through a glorious journey. Nonetheless, I couldn’t deny that when I pick up my phone to play music, something off this album wouldn’t fill my sonic desires.
That’s not to say that I won’t ever return to this album. There is something so undeniably unique about this listening experience that I know, given a certain mood, I could enjoy listening to this straight through again. Although this may seem like a contradiction, my views on this album are dependent on how I have defined my own outlooks on an album. Unlike Fantano, albums start at 0 and gain points much like they would on the SAT. Given my listening experience, there were just not enough moments that I was enamored with.
In our society, people often do not reserve their attention exclusively to musical and artistic works that are objectively good. If this were the case, everyone would be bumping Beethoven and Bach instead of Young Thug and Cardi B. Ultimately, it is impressive that despite taste and preferences, Fantano is able to review music objectively. Given that most of society doesn’t operate that way, I don’t predict Spellling’s new album will be adored by as many people that stan albums like Sour by Olivia Roderigo. Weird comparison– nonetheless I hope it helps illustrate that music taste is subjective. With subjective interpretations of music, popular culture somewhat formulates a common consensus of what is good or not. As it stands, this album will surely be appreciated by musicians and critics alike, but won’t find its way to the social media acclaim necessary for an album to be universally adored. However, for the people who end up resonating with this album the same way Fantano does, I am genuinely happy for you.