Black City - Matthew Dear
Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. 100
    The cumulative results of his efforts are a masterpiece both dark and striking. Dear is putting forth an open invitation to tour these shadowed places of his imagination, and this is one offer too good to miss.
  2. The lyrical immediacy and intimacy lift Black City leagues above much of the disassociated drivel that's labeled vocal house.
  3. It's predictably brilliant; another display of Dear's dazzling musical imagination.
  4. Black City is his thesis on how he's capable of delivering a dark, lustful album just as easy as he can mine more bubbly, melodic sounds. Beyond this, he's delivered one of the more cohesive and thematically sound albums of the year so far.
  5. The production is as inventive and immersive as ever, but what separates this album from the last is that Dear mostly sticks with one theme all the way through.
  6. Black City overall is lean and upbeat, and Dear's gift for making an arrangement jump within snug confines continues to evolve.
  7. 80
    Black City is the devil leering over Asa Breed's shoulder, a seedy, dirty place--but a fascinating one, too. [Sep 2010, p.99]
  8. 80
    That a curdled, unifying groove undulates throughout this perverse collection is testament to Dear's abundant skills. [Sep 2010, p.91]
  9. That Black City is Dear's most creative and individual album is not, however, up for debate.
  10. An assemblage of electro-pop, affecting melodies and Dear's sonorous voice, Black City variously recalls Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and The Magnetic Fields. [Sept. 2010, p. 114]
  11. Dear's tempos here are mostly slow, never rising above moderate, and the result is an anxious but exhilarating journey through the night.
  12. It's the sort of album which reaches back and forward in equal measure, applying what's known about past songwriting to invigorate the present day.
  13. The lyrics themselves--overstocked with darkness, paranoia, and bodily fluids--are as indecipherable as the vocals are buried. They're scene-setters. It's the death-disco groove that intoxicates and defines this City.
  14. Black City doesn't reveal all its treasures on the first spin. Or the second. Matthew Dear, now more than ever, rewards you for devoted listening, with vocal tracks, minor melodies, and atmospheric shimmers that lay buried, waiting to be found.
  15. It's sonically peculiar, coolly melodic, relentlessly detailed and, frequently, exhilarating.
  16. The resulting record is, given time to grow on you, really rather loveable. Like someone taking all of your favourite Eighties 12-inches, remastering them and making you your own extra special mixtape.
  17. He continues to chart new territory, using his latest album to highlight sonic textures and what they seem to suggest about a metaphorical city. Working within those constraints, he's captured the nuance of living in many real cities and, in so doing, has crafted one of the stronger releases you'll hear this year.
  18. 70
    A firmer grasp of his limited range would have been welcome (i.e., "I Can't Feel"), but the N.Y.C. artist still manages to peek further out from his twitchy drum machines like an impish agent of darkness.
  19. Not surprisingly, disorientation is his leitmotif, and it can border on the oppressive, especially given his blunt limitations as a singer (and his habit of multitracking himself across two or more octaves). But the bass lines and beats sound great, and the passing textures--robotic percussion, synthesizer drones, sampled sounds--feel right, and carefully determined.
  20. Throughout there is an attention to detail, to little tics and tricks in the mix, that make this a treat for listeners who still wear headphones. But mostly it's music for defunct--or, rather, Defunkt--nightclubs.
  21. In the end, Dear has successfully turned a tense, eerie mood into songs. They just aren't songs most people will feel like hearing.
  22. The production on Black City feels thin, particularly compared to what Dear is capable of--as, fatally, does the songwriting; tracks putter along aimlessly without ever reaching anywhere interesting.
  23. It's another misfire with a handful of great moments that point to something better.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Feb 26, 2014
    8
    The tracks on their own have enough poignancy to warrant multiple listens, and although Dear's production shows prowess in establishing synchronicity, the lyrical component does not match, leaving itself to feel like forced conceptual catharsis. If it wasn't for the release of 'Headcage', 'Slowdance' would be the lone unforgettable standout of Dear's ambitious catalogue. Full Review »
  2. Sep 15, 2010
    7
    This album provides a skillful level of cohesion throughout its tracks. The multiple layering of vocals creates ambient lyrical environment. Musically, the album contains interesting percussive details, and comparisons aside, at times spans popular genres. While "Dark City" is certainly a dark album, its turning point comes during 'Monkey", a slightly humorous pick-me-up before the end. Replay value: 3/5. Full Review »