Guns N’ Roses
Chinese Democracy “is the Titanic of rock ’n’ roll albums,” said Jon Pareles in The New York Times. “It’s outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced,” and a complete disaster. Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose spent more than 15 years—and more than $13 million—perfecting this “monumental studio production.” He also churned through dozens of bandmates, said Allison Stewart in The Washington Post. “It’s like some modern-day, heavy-metal WPA project.” The resulting musical concoction includes many moments of “genuine, back-on-your-heels wonderment,” but overall the album feels “like it was made by someone who doesn’t get out much.” Lyrics pour scorn on Rose’s romantic exes or professional doubters, but don’t mention 9/11 or the five presidential elections that transpired during the album’s gestation. You guys aren’t GN’R fans, are you? said Chuck Klosterman in The Onion. Rose has always been a maximalist: The sonic barrage here includes not just squalling guitar solos but “dolphin squeaks,” industrial noises, and clips from MLK speeches. But the man can still rock. Rose could never have fulfilled fans’ inflated expectations for this album. “What’s cool” is how he manages to defy them.