What Does This Thievery Corporation Review Mean?

By Ally Schweitzer

If you don't understand Spin magazine's review of Thievery Corporation's new record, you're not alone.
If you don't understand Spin magazine's review of Thievery Corporation's new record, you're not alone.

April Fools’ Day joke? Elaborate pan? It’s unclear, at least to me. The review by Spin contributor Garrett Kamps, dated April 1, ostensibly sets out to assess the new long-player from D.C.’s Thievery Corporation, which came out on the same day. What it does instead is copy text from the Wikipedia page for “sushi.”

Here is Kamps’ review of Thievery Corporation’s “Saudade,” in full:

Sushi (すし, 寿司, 鮨, 鮓, 寿斗, 寿し, 壽司) is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice (鮨飯 sushi-meshi) combined with other ingredients (ネタ neta), seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is rice (also referred to as shari (しゃり) or sumeshi (酢飯)).

Sushi can be prepared with either brown or white rice. Sushi is often prepared with raw seafood, but some common varieties of sushi use cooked ingredients. Raw fish (or occasionally meat) sliced and served without rice is called sashimi.

Sushi is often served with shredded ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. Popular garnishes are often made using daikon.

Click here to read more about sushi.

The critic’s rating? Two out of 10.

A fan of conceptual reviews—and having some experience negatively reviewing Thievery Corporation—I had to find out what this thing meant. But Kamps isn’t offering many answers.

I attempted to persuade Kamps to shed some light on his review, but that didn’t help much. Meanwhile, a couple of other tweeters seem as confounded as me.

So some imagination may be required here. My best guess—setting aside the too-obvious possibility that it’s an April Fools’ prank—is that Kamps is taking aim at Thievery Corporation’s fairly rote approach to bossa nova on “Saudade.” To explain: The record borrows heavily, and without much fun or experimentation, from the Brazilian music. It’s got references all over the place—and it throws in a few different languages—but it’s an otherwise completely straightforward lounge record, sanitized and simplified.

You could say that “Saudade” is like a Wikipedia article that way. (Eh? Eh?)

Kamps’ copied-and-pasted non-review could add another layer: a comment on appropriation—something Thievery has been accused of in the past.

So is that what Kamps is getting at? Or is there a better (and simpler) interpretation I’m missing here?