Are fragrance blogs all that important or useful ?

For me, it’s crucial to provide readers with valuable insights or information on this blog, though I have acknowledged in the past that some people may not wear or perceive scents the way I do and so this blog may be of limited to use to them. However, things can change, as I’ve discovered with this “hobby,” and I’ll advise readers to keep an open mind. Over on FromPyrgos not long ago was a post about an end to what was claimed to be a kind of “Perfume Renaissance” that the internet made possible. The author pointed out that several bloggers and/or those who had reviewed a large number of scents on at least one of the major sites (Basenotes.net or Fragrantica.com in particular) had “given up” or greatly reduced their writings on the subject.

The point I want to make here is that I rarely found these blogs that interesting or helpful, relative to the reviews on the major sites. In many cases a blog post was more like a long review, at best. At http://www.nstperfume.com, most reviews are quite superficial, IMO (I expect more from a blog review); I generally prefer the more “heart felt” ones of newbies, actually, though I respect the amount of work the authors have put into that site. And in some cases the blogger went off on all kinds of tangents and I felt my time was being wasted by someone who was using scents to further some other purpose. I don’t want to come across here as some sort of blog naysayer, and in fact I read some non-scent blogs as well. However, those blogs are usually much more useful or entertaining, and so I began to ask myself why this is the case, when scents are such a major “hobby” of mine. It seems that at some point the scent blogger loses focus, for example, from cologniac.wordpress.com there is this:

For years, the dream troubled him. The spirit world would only do such a thing to his mother, who wanted to rest in peace, if there was some terrible need for her not to go to her rest. Red knew – without words – that the kind old man was very much pained by asking her to forgo her rest. He knew that his mother – who had suffered greatly both in life and in death – didn’t want to go, either.

He didn’t know why – until now. Trouble was coming to the world. Maybe not to Perfume City, but it was still coming. Forces larger than men were gathering. Spirits of the dead were coming back – not to haunt men, but to give them courage. Red’s mother would guide them to him, bringing their truths to the times and places of return to the Great Spirit.

Modern men don’t believe in spirits, but it is only because they don’t know how to see them. Seeing in the spirit world is like seeing in the world of numbers and bits. We must blind ourselves to the physical world to see into the spirit world.

I’m all for working out one’s issues in benign ways, if that’s what’s occurring here, but I’m not interested in hearing about someone else’s issues when I read about scents. This may entertain others in some way, but I find it quite bizarre and unappealing (beyond not being useful to my interest in scents). Another post there seems to be “Tea Party”-inspired and includes the following:

“AmeriCorp™ would like to thank you for your recent comments about our new and improved product, Gun Control™. We are pleased to hear that it has worked so well for you, and that you have recommended it to your 4 friends.”).

I wonder what scent he would wear if and when some real “gun control” ever does get implemented in the USA! But now I’d like to return to something I discussed in the last post, which involved a great deal of “backlash” at my advice to someone who asked about Memoir Man, which was to consider Brit for Men instead (which I prefer). Others jumped in, apparently not able to understand the undeniable fact that some of us (including those who have sampled 1000+ scents, like myself) might find a relatively inexpensive scent to fill the role that a very expensive one would otherwise in our rotations. Here is my response to one of those people:

I guess you didn’t read one of my previous posts on this thread when I said that if you exclude the vintage ones that had a huge number of notes you don’t find many that have many less notes and with a focus on those. And also it seems you didn’t read that I try to avoid top notes, so no, I don’t get the strong absinthe type note. And again as I said before, this suggestion would lead one to think that MM is similar to Lolita Lempicka au Masculin, which to me is outright ridiculous. You can’t have it both ways. When you come across a scent that doesn’t have many notes, there are others it will undeniably smell similar to (other than some “oddballs” such as Secretions Magnifiques). Identical? No, but the same guy who said I was way off suggested that Zino and Attitude are very similar, and again that is ridiculous to me, as they are not of the same genre. And he said that I might be more sensitive to certain notes, but that is also true for his ZIno/Attitude notion!

When you read reviews this is precisely the kind of information you should want, because if you find someone who has the same sensitivities/aesthetic that you do it’s more likely you will be helped by his or her assessment. Now I am the first one to admit that I don’t wear scents the way most people do because I try to largely avoid top notes, and reviewers I hold in high regard, such as “Jack Hunter,” has written about how much MM changes over time, so the logical conclusion an “objective” person would come to, considering the listed notes, is that the top notes are deceiving a lot of people about what the drydown is actually like. Sure, MM has oakmoss and Brit does not, and sure Brit is a bit spicier, might have more rose, etc., but again, nobody said they were identical. My point is that they are close enough for me, and in fact I like Brit better; they are “similar” in enough ways for me to think that if one doesn’t find them similar then it’s difficult to make that claim for any two scents, at least beyond the top notes. The OP might as well so he deserves to have this information.

Does anyone here want to step up and say they think MM is similar (not necessarily very similar) to Lolita Lempicka au Masculin?

First, it’s certainly possible that there are several recent releases that possess a similar main accord or focus, as someone argued, but his examples were mostly expensive niche, which supports my original response, involving cost relative to what you are actually getting. Nor does it counter the point that if two scents have several notes in common and there aren’t that many notes overall some people will to find them to be “similar” to each other. And consider my other point about Lolita Lempick au Masculin, which seems to be the kind of scent my detractors would think similar to MM. LLaM does possess a strong absinthe/anise/wormwood type quality, along with “green” (ivy), sweet/vanllic, and woody ones. However, to me there is no reason to say that MM is similar to LLaM. Some notes are certainly similar but the composition and central focus is not (beyond top notes). Those who think these two are quite similar are clearly perceiving at least certain kinds of scents in a way that is very different to the how I do.

As a kind of test of my “fany boy fever” idea, I used the Fragrantica feature to chose a few other scents that one might think MM is similar to, including Lolita Lempicka au Masculin and Hoggar. In any case, let’s take a look at some Fragrantica reviews that seem the most insightful:

“Kain” (English is not likely the person’s “first language”) writes:

Start with huge dose of incense and leather mixed with herbal and green note of wormwood. there is some cooling vibe into it too which that’s because of the mint note.
It’s very strange! green, cooling and dark all at the same time! WOW!
There is some sweetness from amber too, but not too much.
In the drydown the mint note and cooling vibe disappear and the green wormwood note is there, but it’s in the background.
Now in the drydown, the bitter and smocky incense become stronger with much more sweet amber that give a waxy vibe to this fragrance.
In the base, we have a woody drydown because of the sandalwood note mixed with some tobacco and amber but both are in the background.

A Brazilian, “Fábio Condé,” writes:

The warm heart for incense and velvety with a delicate rose is an amazing oriental refinement, with a lightly lavender maybe.
At the base, tobacco and sandalwood scent leaves with a dry, woody and sobriety odd, along with leather and a intense vanilla

These make sense to me (other than claims about obvious tobacco though that may be their way of thinking about the wood notes), but then there are some that seem to be rather unique, such as this one by meshary007:

Opens dark Incense and Leather with grassy fresh Tobacco mixed in sweet Vanille

dry down Leathery Tobacco mixed in sweet Vanille

Of particular interest to me is that only two other reviewers at Fragrantica mentioned oakmoss, which I perceive very powerfully in MM. I think most people would agree that things like weather/climate and skin chemistry could play a major role in one’s perceptions. Also, for me, the mid notes are sometimes quite strong, never really letting go of a scent before I get to sleep, and so can’t track the progression any longer. In the case of MM and Brit, there is a kind of central accord involving what I perceive to be “powdery” woods (a touch vanillic), rose, patchouli, and a bit of amber. In MM, the clear oakmoss note seems to want to crash the party, creating a bit of a clash, which has led me to prefer Brit, though I do think MM has a more “natural” feel, overall.

This MM/Brit “debate” led me to recall a post on Basenotes quite a while back in which someone said L’Instant Homme EdT was similar to Roadster. I thought that was somewhat “far out” but then after doing a comparison I realized that at certain points in their developments there is quite a bit of similarity between these two (early in L’Instant while considerably later in Roadster). It’s also true that a note or accord can seem too strong during one wearing while being hardly noticeable during another. In sum, not only may a reviewer or blogger be further down the road than you (or not as far down), but you may be getting a kind of “snap shot” at best, and as I’ve shown, some really go off on tangents you may or may not appreciate. This is why I have often updated my Fragrantica reviews after more than one wearing. As I gain more experience with specific scents while sampling new ones, I hope to write more useful reviews, but my major suggestion is to “enjoy the ride” and be open to the possibility that a scent you once hated you may come to like, that two you though were similar you later decide are quite different (or vice versa), etc.

NOTE: In some ways this is a “part two” to the previous, “niche fan boy” post. And if you have not had quite enough of this subject, I am working on a part three, which should be ready in a few more days. That one will include some comments by Roja Dove.

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Filed under Criticizing the critics.

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