The standard “five star” and numbered rating systems are arbitrary and difficult to interpret, and they often ignore the nuances of standout tracks and flow. For example, does a three-star album mean an album that is consistently average, or does it mean that there are a lot of poor tracks among excellent ones? The drive for critics to “average” albums on basic scales that have little implication toward recommendation creates difficult-to-define categories that do not properly reflect most artists’ content and output. That being said, there is a need for actual “ratings” – consumers and producers alike need easily-digestible metrics by which to gauge an album’s success at achieving its goal – although Sunbleach eschews using such a term. Readers are encouraged to listen to albums and make up their own opinions rather than take our word for it.
Sunbleach utilizes system inspired by that of Robert Christgau in his writings for his Consumer Guide and the Village Voice magazine. From there, the level of recommendation is denoted by qualifiers.
☹: an album that has appeal only for completionists, or it does not succeed in its intentions.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯: an album toward which the reviewer feels neither positive nor negative feelings, or an album that has extremely specific listening circumstances.
✂: an album with one or several standout cuts that are worth adding to one’s music library. This includes lackluster albums with occasional moments of exceptionalism and albums whose main point may be better gained from select cuts instead of full listens.
☀☁☁: a slightly-recommended album. These albums may be especially challenging or experimental resulting in limited appeal, or they may have one or two flaws that call for a qualified appraisal.
☀☀☁: a moderately-recommended album. These albums are worthwhile additions to one’s music library and will be good introductions to or examples of vaporwave, dreampunk, and ghost tech for new and long-time fans.
☀☀☀: a highly-recommended album. These albums are necessary additions to one’s music library, regardless of interest or activity within vaporwave and its related genres. Twelve albums in the history of Sunbleach have received this rating.