"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."
Coming up with reviews can be hard when you have to deal with deadlines and multiple works to review, but music reviewers have it harder. Video game reviewers can talk about controls and graphics, film critics go on and on about acting and plot and whatnot, but how the hell do you describe music?
One way to get around the problem is to compare or contrast the work in question to other artists or albums. In itself, this trope is not bad since it can provide an easy reference for a band's Signature Style, kind of like how Power Pop = The BeatlesplusThe Who. However, done excessively it can get annoying (like, say, featuring the exact same comparison in every single review of albums released by a particular band), and it can also backfire if it's Wrong Genre Savvy: comparing something to an obscure Japanese noise band will fly over the heads of most mainstream listeners.
A Sub-Trope of Reviewer Stock Phrases.
Examples of comparisons to artists or albums and what they mean:
The Beatles: Depending on what period of their career the reviewer is talking about, it can either mean that the band in question makes catchy pop-rock Silly Love Songs with lots of vocal harmonies, is a full-blown Psychedelic Rock band or is an eclectic but pretty straight-forward rock band.
A Hard Day's Night: Aforementioned catchy pop-rock Silly Love Songs with vocal harmonies.
The White Album: Probably the most standard reference you can get. It refers to a really eclectic album that experiments with lots of genres, has lots of throwaway, humorous stuff and an overall "disjointed" character. Will frequently draw huge arguments over which songs should have been left off or comments that "it would be a better album if it was just edited/a single album".
Abbey Road: a glossy Grand Finale production where a decaying band pulls itself together for one last effort that is worthy of their talents.
The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds: baroque pop album bordering on psychedelia, intricate orchestration, cool production, massive harmonies. Key difference from Sgt. Pepper is that Pet Sounds implies a more sedate pop sound as opposed to trippy rocking out.
Guns N' Roses: A frequent shorthand for "this band used to be all awesome and threatening but they sold out and became mainstream", since that's what lots of critics thought happened to GN'R after Appetite for Destruction.
Use Your Illusion I & II: A classic example of the "difficult second album" where the band totally runs wild in the studio, overproduces everything and comes out with a messy, disjointed, over-reaching work that could have used more editing (see White Album).
Any double album will either attract comparisons to classic double albums like Pink Floyd's The Wall, Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, The Beatles' The White Album or Prince's Sign O' the Times or will cause arguments that it's too long and would've been better with some songs thrown out/as a single album - double albums will inevitably be seen as either a "grand artistic statement" or "self-indulgent noodling". Double albums frequently tend to feature lots of genre experimentation and sprawling - in fact, "sprawl" in a pretty frequent term when it comes to describing double albums.
Speaking of Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon is reviewerspeak for "Concept Album with excellent production and progressive tendencies".
Any person of Slavic descent who writes a book with at least one funny sentence in it will be compared to Gogol. Nabokov? Gogol. Gary Shteyngart? Gogol. See also any book featuring a protagonist under 40 who's not perfectly content with society and his place in it. The author will inevitably be compared to Salinger.
Burzum = technically simple, repetitive ambient black metal. Or indeed any kind of ambient black metal, really.
It's common to compare any female R&B singer to Beyoncé or maybe Rihanna now. Before they came out, they were compared to Janet Jackson.