Birthdays - Keaton Henson
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Apr 15, 2013
    80
    Birthdays is the kind of record you’re not likely to let go of easily and in coming times it’s likely to be a touchstone recording for a number of singer-songwriters and a measuring stick for critics.
  2. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    Blessed with a beautiful, halting falsetto and a way with words, he is a very sad man, and this is a very sad album. It will make you want to lie down in the dark for a while and think about things.
  3. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    It's a transformation that makes the delicate beauty of what comes before even more startling. [Mar 2013, p.102]
  4. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    There’s no better way to shut out the din than by putting this record on.
  5. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    An often spectacular document of pain, no doubt, but it remains a record to admire rather than invest in, turning you away with its bleakness when it promises comfort
  6. 70
    While the album’s rustic first half simmers the songwriter with the myriad Jeff Buckley and Justin Vernon comparisons, it’s the last seven tracks where Henson embraces the exploratory nature of a second album.
  7. Mar 13, 2013
    70
    This follow-up to last year's impressive debut, Dear, is no less musically intense or lyrically unflinching, but now Henson's quavering anxiety has flesh on its bones. [Mar 2013, p.]
  8. 70
    Henson spends 20-odd minutes working his tremulous voice--somewhere between Paul Simon and Wayne Coyne--around echoing guitar.... Then suddenly he finds the socket and ‘Don’t Swim’ rages into life, his guitar bashed and throttled.
  9. 70
    The album isn’t easy going: it’s hard to completely love a record as bleak as this.... but Henson has a poet’s way with words and an expressive voice that you’d never tire of listening to.
  10. Apr 26, 2013
    60
    Despite his delicate--make that dainty--designs, Henson also knows how to set a fanciful mood, albeit one that’s singularly subdued.
  11. Mar 13, 2013
    60
    [Dear's] followup offers more of the same, but with studio polish.
  12. Mar 13, 2013
    60
    These spare, bluesy arrangements don't always sustain the mood, occasionally drifting towards torpor, despite cathartic bursts of noise on Don't Swim and Kronos.
  13. Mar 13, 2013
    60
    It will inspire obsessive fandom and moisten a few eyes, but Henson’s voice is something of an acquired taste.
  14. Mar 13, 2013
    60
    Birthdays is so fragile and broken that listening to it without signing some kind of non-disclosure agreement feels borderline voyeuristic.
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Jul 25, 2013
    8
    This album does contain a collection of excellent songs, though the jarring jump from acoustic and vocals to electric and band mid song were initially alienating, the over all quality of the material means it is involving and engaging, just not the most coherent or consistent. Full Review »
  2. Apr 16, 2013
    8
    I haven't had the chance to give the entire album a complete listen yet, as I am obsessed (and stuck) with the first few tracks on it. More specifically, 'You' and 'Lying to You' could be two of the most beautiful mournful songs about the darker hours of a romantic relationship that I've heard in many years. Give it a go, it's lovely. Full Review »