BY_THE_#S: A Retrospective on the First 100 Reviews

Impression of Sound
As an acknowledgement of the 100-album anniversary of Impression of Sound, the following analyses are meant to increase our collective understanding of the albums we’ve reviewed, interrogate our reviewers’ manifold palates, increase our critical transparency, and quantify our site’s footprint to date.

As a young site, we recognize our prints may manifest as baby steps, but as we approach album #200, our continued coverage and analysis demonstrates burgeoning confidence.

To begin with, here is an overview of our coverage:
The mean album score (n = 100) across all genres was 7.99.

The following figures illustrate the distribution of the first 100 albums within our four-tier system with a reminder of the particular threshold for each tier:

Tier 1 (9.0+)...............16
Tier 2 (7.0-8.9)...........79
Tier 3 (5-6.9)..............12
Tier 4 (4.9 or lower)......1

The following statistics demonstrate that across the three predominantly reviewed genre categories on this site, hip-hop/rap albums received an average score of 8.2, electronic albums received an average score of 8.0, and alternative albums received an average score of 7.8. Of course, these statistics should not be used to empirically prove theses about genre supremacy. It’s doubtful that anyone would use these results in such a way anyway—what with such a small sample of reviewage, all conducted by a highly subjective stable of reviewers. As further analyses (of albums 101-200, 201-300, etc.) is performed in the coming months, though, trends will likely develop relating to the culture of the indie music market’s release calendar, fluctuation with respect to genre, label, and the myriad temperaments of Impression of Sound reviewers.

Mean Album Score by Genre

Because Impression of Sound is unique in its track-by-track evaluation of albums, here I present the following chart, which reflects the trajectory of the average “first 100” album reviewed on IOS. Unsurprisingly, a fourteen-track LP appears to begin with its strongest track (8.41) and conclude with its weakest (7.21). While artists and labels order tracks on an album in a variety of ways (see concept albums, bonus tracks, etc.), one of the staid implicit marketing conventions (quality-based ordering, e.g., frontloading) seems to be evident in the following chart.

Track-by-Track Mean Scores (All Genres)

In future installments of this retrospective, I hope to additionally look at:
- Comparisons of artists sharing the same label
- Cross-label comparisons
- IOS reviewer statistical profiles

Written by Lawrence Lenhart
Lawrence Lenhart received his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, where he was the editor-in-chief of Sonora Review. He is the recipient of two Foundation Awards, two Taube Awards, and the Laverne Harrell Clark Award in Fiction.

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