I’ll admit: The title track from Chinese Democracy didn’t wow me, so I put picking up the album a little lower on my must-have list (Wall-E won the top slot for November, and rightly so), but now Chuck Klosterman has forced me to kick Axl Rose’s 13 year opus up a few slots. How can you not get a little pumped from reading a view like this:
Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It’s more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom? I’ve been thinking about this record for 15 years; during that span, I’ve thought about this record more than I’ve thought about China, and maybe as much as I’ve thought about the principles of democracy. This is a little like when that grizzly bear finally ate Timothy Treadwell: Intellectually, he always knew it was coming. He had to. His very existence was built around that conclusion. But you still can’t psychologically prepare for the bear who eats you alive, particularly if the bear wears cornrows.