Greta Van Fleet brings fun back to rock music. | Courtesy Wiki­Media

Blue Check Twitter and Co. has struck again, this time with a scathing review by Pitchfork, a music journal, of rock-revivalist Greta Van Fleet’s recent major label debut “Anthem of the Peaceful Army.” Then came the hive mind of self-entitled “patrician” music-lovers who remain secretly glad that a large, main­stream media outlet actually vin­di­cated their lack of under­standing of the greater musical world.  

As a gen­er­ation lost in the streaming age, musical dis­covery can be a tricky world to nav­igate. Any­thing highly mar­keted appears inau­thentic. As the Pitchfork gen­er­ation comes of age, and sees a losing battle fought against Gen-Z-ers and their affinity for antic-based hip-hop, those who con­sidered them­selves avant-garde for lis­tening to Passion Pit in 2011 begin to feel a little dis­il­lu­sioned. 

Inno­vation in music is dom­i­nated now by self-mar­keting antics and absurdism, such as Kanye West’s Twitter shenanigans, or artists like Lil Pump who have dom­i­nated rap and hip-hop through intel­ligent self-branding. Artists with initial main­stream success seem suspect, as mar­keting firms and adver­tisers use algo­rithms and streaming sites to push what they think users want to hear. These problems have spawned a gen­er­ation of entitled music critics des­per­ately intent on appearing unique in their taste but even­tually all sounding the same. 

Greta Van Fleet makes rock ’n’ roll for people who like rock ’n’ roll. They have not pre­sented them­selves as any­thing more or any­thing less. They are not self-entitled rev­o­lu­tion­aries. They are not who Pitchfork senior editors want a young, suc­cessful band to be. But their music can be polar­izing for those who pre­vi­ously believed they under­stood the greater musical world. Sud­denly, bursting unin­vited into their echo-chamber comes an anomaly: a young band with a rabid fol­lowing, initial bill­board success, and a sound that main­tains limited orig­i­nality and yet branches off from con­ven­tional hip-hop, pop-rock, or avant-garde alter­native. The people who find their music boring are com­pletely right: their music is boring, or at least, boring to those who unad­mit­tedly have never lis­tened to classic rock past “Stairway to Heaven” and perhaps “Sweet Child o’ Mine” in their lifetime. 

The gen­er­ation who remembers Kanye’s “Yeezus” scoring an unprece­dented 9.5 on Pitchfork has some­thing to say about inno­vation and evo­lution. We watched as Taylor Swift went from cutesie country girl to full-blown popstar. This trans­for­mation has since been cel­e­brated, as Swift developed her sound while retaining her quality. We have watched countless artists assume this tra­jectory to the point where if we don’t see it, we write the artist off as “boring” or “uno­riginal.” These attacks were once aimed at Mumford & Sons, a folksy rock band that has also done poorly on past Pitchfork reviews, including a 2.6 out of 10 on their debut effort. But Mumford & Sons has gone on to sell out show after show and record two more No. 1 albums. They did this by using a simple formula: making music that is both suitable and enjoyable to their demo­graphic. 

Greta Van Fleet also makes music suitable to their demo­graphic, be that baby-boomers who grew up with Zep­pelin, or young kids who are looking for some­thing new to play in the car. Either way, Greta Van Fleet will do just fine. The hive-mind attacks, vin­di­cated by the will subside, and Greta Van Fleet, a young band with many years of success ahead of them, will keep writing music for the people who like their music for its own sake. Those who want to fetishize Neutral Milk Hotel and Wilco can con­tinue to do so. The rest of us will keep having fun.