Without critical (negative, or *gasp* lukewarm) reviews you move from being a critic to being a marketer, and there are plenty of PR and record label folks whose job is to do that. Is music taste subjective? Yes, just like movies and video games. Do critical reviews hurt the livelihood of creators? Yes, but everyone in the world has to deal with criticism from different points of view. Did you agree with everything that was written on your performance review last year?
The Transit review deserved to be written. It wasn't terrible, I thought it was a good "summer" record that completely lacked the depth of Listen & Forgive so if you can take it for that then it was a pretty good album. If you can't and expected something to continue to grow the band's sound, then you get the AP review that was written.
Everybody I know who claim they like it have to put a caveat in before doing so. If your ears have to take a while to get used to how bad it sounds, it probably isn't good.
Production is not all that matters, and I'd second that.
Negative reviews are needed too, when a record I care for comes out, I like to see some opinions - places that I tend to visit of course. But for example that Coldplay example was painfull to even get through, and I can't believe some people in the comments agree that it was 'funny'.
Currently listening to the pod, and I have some thoughts on the review aspect, but I'll post those when I'm not on mobile.
Jason made a comment that the band gets the blame when a label messes up when they create something when the band not involved.
Did blink really get blamed when MTS fucked up TOYPAJ? I think vinyl fans pay pretty close attention to which label is pressing the vinyl, and do hold the label responsible. Do I think blink should have came forward and refunded or paid to get those records pressed? Yes, because they are a highly successful band and they did endorse that release. If any band were to get shit for another label fucking up a release, it would be blink for that release and all the blame I saw was towards MTS.
Edit: just got to the part where jason brought up MTS, I based this on what I remembered on ap.net and vinyl collective. Never paid attention to marks @ replies on twitter
Re: Beats -- Have you guys done a trial of Beats Music? The way they approach the notion of a streaming service, the features and digital environment, immediately made me think of Apple's software paradigm: Make it stylish, intuitive and make the user feel connected to the experience beyond just serving what's requested.
All services do analysis/recommendation, but the "getting to know you" part of Beats involves eye-candy bubbles. "The Sentence" is a sort of mood-based roulette for a rec. This is, I'd guess, not really an enhancement for most users here... but I think we can all see why it would be really effective in part of the marketplace (kinda like Beats headphones).
If Apple is going to use Beats Music to fix their absence from the streaming game, it strikes me as an interesting case of a company making something in a world so shaped by Apple's "way" that Apple is motivated to bring it into the fold and can do so with relative ease.