Not gonna accuse them, but I'm going to point out:
Patchfork eagerly pushes an album in the forkast section, to the point of whipping up hysteria, and then pans it in their review section, or at least doesn't give it the rave you'd expect. Hence:
Panda Bear gets a 9.4, and while the forkast really only plugged the album once. LCD Soundsystem did get a few entries, but nothing in their text spouted amazement for the rest of the album which, by the way, is good, but not above an 8, not by a long shot, since each song is overlong by a minute and steals so liberally from Mr. M's influences (Shelley, Walker) that parody approaches. I said approaches, not arrives.
Neither had prominent retail links.
Ted Leo, on the other hand, who gets an inflated 7.5 (His first dud; I wouldn't give it a 6, and I like Mr. Leo), launches the frikking Forkast. And then the album gets multiple plugs, since January, with prominent "to-buy" links to a retailer. Makes me think someone (Touch and Go? ADA? Insound?) paid for that coverage. The tone of p-fork's writing for this release, as opposed to LCD's or Panda's text, all but forkasted a blockbuster rating and review. The tone of their Ted Leo writing also skirted marketing-speak, and barely. Not to mention that on the morning of Mr. Leo's review, they updated late, which makes me think they argued (remember the Annuals?) into the night, over the rating. Maybe the review came in at 6.4.
Again, this is conjecture, but it seems probable. It was only a matter of time until payola hit the online editorial. Rolling Stone sold out 20 (25?) years ago, and Spin ... well, ever read a bad review of something in their online version?
Also: Astralwerks protects the shit out of their mp3s. So does Subpop. But you see them on Pitchfork, pre-release, in the forkast. (Yoko Ono, Air, Low)
One exception: they plugged the shit out of the Deerhunter record. But then again, isn't Kranky in Chicago? Ah, I'll give them that one, because the album deserves it. If someone paid them to pre-plug that album, they were probably right to do so, since it's the type of thing that might get missed, despite a big review. And yet, it got an 8.9, and it's easily better than both the new Panda Bear and LCD. In fact, I'd give the Panda Bear a 7.9 for it's missed opportunities and slumber-inducing repetition.
At the same time, I sort of think their ratings have become predictable. Here's some future guesses. Remember, this is what they'd give, not me (mine are in bold)
Blonde Redhead - 23: 7.6 (trio now duo goes MBV) 6.6
Electrelane - No Signals, No Calls: 8.4 (guitarist Mia Clarke writes for p-fork, or did; & the album rocks) 8.4
Feist - The Reminder 7.1 (aside from three wonderful tunes, Ms. F dangerously flirts with Norah Jonesing) 5.5
Grinderman - S/t This one depends. The leaked/euro version isn't the official American version. If they review the right one, the latter, it gets a 7.8. The former gets a 8.0 I give both a 7.5 The Us version has new tracks, and new recordings of euro/leaked tracks. Here's a new version: