Dark Was The Night - Various Artists

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Though some of the tracks contributed by Dark Was the Night's artists are a touch too predictable, it's uncharitable to nitpick too much when the collection offers so much music for such a good cause.
  2. The Brothers Dessner have performed admirably here. Dark Was the Night does more than just keep the Red Hot tradition alive. It sets a new standard.
  3. Dark Was the Night comes off as a gray, monotone look at the current indie landscape and, as a result, works best in small batches.
  4. 60
    This is the polite, less freaky end of modern American indie folk: earnest, well-intentioned, Obama-fundraising, National Public Radio-supporting... and cumulatively a little dull.
  5. Despite such big hitters as Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire, it's an overly introspective affair, with little standing out bar contributions from The Decemberists and Dave Sitek. [Mar 2009, p.102]
  6. 60
    While there is no quibbling with the noble sentiment behind this set, a more judicial selection policy might have established a unified aesthetic to eclipse some of the B-side material here. [Mar 2009, p.114]
  7. The Red Hot Organization, an AIDS charity, always makes top-shelf comps, and their latest is a smart, indie-rock-minded who's who.
  8. This being a compilation, not everyone brings their A game—contributions from The Arcade Fire, Spoon, Iron And Wine, and Cat Power come off as disappointingly perfunctory and hastily sketched--but as a yearbook photo of the class of 2009, it should age remarkably well.
  9. By any metrics, this latest compilation from AIDS/HIV awareness foundation Red Hot Organization is a great one. [Winter 2009, p.76]
  10. Dark Was The Night is not a perfect album by any stretch of the imagination, although there is enough on offer here to warrant a purchase.
  11. As a document of the (musical) times, a beautiful, sundry package and admirable unification of today’s very finest towards a common goal, Dark Was The Night is unbeatable.
  12. Of 31 tracks, a few inevitably feel like throwaways; overall, though, it's a satisfying smorgasbord, and a nice fix for fans waiting on new records from indie stars like Arcade Fire, Yo La Tengo, and the Decemberists.
  13. The real point is that, as a compilation, Dark Was the Night far and away surpasses its predecessors-- even in an age when it should be irrelevant. Go buy it.
  14. It features top-shelf exclusive original and cover tracks by softer-side-of-indie acts currently riding a wave of relevance.
  15. There’s a certain history-capturing aspiration here, as if the album's purpose wasn’t just for charity, to move records, or for Dessner to get together with his pals to compile an album but to provide a musical time capsule that in 20 years could allow younger generations to get into indie rock from the early 21st century. If that was how compilation albums were solely judged, Dark Was the Night would be the gold standard.
  16. Most of the artists have slipped into their most generic, polite, Obama-supporting personas. However this is not to say the album isn’t enjoyable and featuring so many high caliber artists, almost all the songs are good and some really hit the mark.
  17. All of these songs could stand alone on separate albums; it just so happens that this good music supports a good cause.
  18. The second, more hit-or-miss disc turns upbeat for three-chord (but verbally convoluted) songs about romance, then drifts back to indie introspection. Self-consciousness pervades all, but where would indie be without it?
  19. With every compilation, tracks are bound to fall flat. However, the turnover rate is relatively low, making Dark Was The Night so refreshing and ultimately a worthy purchase.
  20. The truth is, practically everything on Dark Was the Night is exceptionally well done. Even when they aren’t covering but contributing original recordings, everyone brings their A-game.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. JesseM.
    Mar 17, 2009
    Uniformly, stunning work. Nevermind the cause, the music leaves you breathless and out of a compilation comes something that has coalesced around the Dessner's work at the assembly line. **** all those "NPR-friendly" type review attitudes copping a pose for their editors, this is genuine music done genuinely. Full Review »
  2. EricC
    Feb 25, 2009
    This is the rare kind of compilation that functions beautifully as an album instead of as a mix tape. Every single track is from an incredibly prolific band or musician, and everyone dedicates so much heart and talent in to their songs. Guys I personally normally don't care for (Antony Hegarty, in particular) contribute stunning vocal work. It may never get too adventerous, and most tracks tend to be singer-songwriter fair, even from the more rockin' bands. But for it's ceaseless elegance and heartbreaking beauty, I can't recommend it enough. It's probably the best album I've heard so far this year. Full Review »
  3. JimM
    Feb 23, 2009
    The Comp as a whole shows how the indie rock cream rises to the top in today's music industry, but I was really expecting more from the Arcade Fire and Chan Marshall should have put in a little more effort than simply rephrasing "Amazing Grace." Full Review »