Golden Archipelago

  • Record Label: Matador
  • Release Date: Feb 23, 2010

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Overflowing with talent and ambition, Golden Archipelago is that rare kind of great album: tackling big ideas and attempting chancy things while delivering a product that feels flawlessly and decisively whole.
  2. The details – the drone of a guitar string, the reverberation of a drum mallet, the swoon of a string section --- are reason enough to reward a close listen.
  3. Archipelago is an argument against verse-chorus-verse structure, and a good one—a rewarding, slow-melting album for patient listeners.
  4. Formerly, you’d envision a samba paced song like “An Insular Life” to grow into a meaty, strong-armed force but here, Meiburg and Co. allow for the strings to bring it to a lifting end, well after they’d taken the drum’s pattern to a heavenly new place.
  5. Serving as the final part of a trilogy that includes the much feted records Rook and , the album is an epic feat of baroque pop craftsmanship, something akin to an update of Scott IV or Dusty in Memphis for the new millennium.
  6. Replete with moments of jubilance and tranquillity, cataclysm and contemplation, it feels like the successful culmination of everything the band have been aiming towards over their career to date.
  7. It is more fluid, more subtle; as such, it pulls you in gradually, irresistibly, its icy black under-current taking hold when you least expect it.
  8. It's an album you can spend time with and understand as a whole work, and one that grows on you with each listen, revealing yet more detail and nuance.
  9. The Golden Archipelago presents a direly meditative culmination.
  10. With its serene landscapes and beautiful imagery, listening to The Golden Archipelago makes waiting for the tropical temperatures of summer all the more difficult.
  11. The Golden Archipelago falls somewhere in that tenuous space, never able to live up to the power of its initial impression. It’s more the kind of thing that should be fully absorbed over the course of a few attentive, complete listens, then allowed to dissipate into the realm of a beautiful idea.
  12. Filter
    Over the course of the 38-minute album, these nouvelle cuisine portions amost add up to a satiating whole. But it's good enough you'll be hungry for more. [Winter 2010, p.94]
  13. Meiburg’s voice is a wonder throughout, wonderfully fragile on ‘Hidden Lakes’, tearing it up on ‘Corridors’. A wonderful album.
  14. The Golden Archipelago is an admirable achievement: a project that has been meticulously prepared and executed with passion and flair.
  15. The Golden Archipelago, a toothy, epic examination of island life, both physical and metaphysical, is enigmatic to say the least.
  16. While the beauty of this record will surprise no one who’s been paying any attention to these guys, it’s the immediacy here--that driving pulse--that might catch you off guard. And keep you listening.
  17. Under The Radar
    Golden Archipelago provides beautiful, thoughtful music in an age sorely lacking both. [Winter 2010, p.66]
  18. Without the threat of squalls of feedback (like on Palo Alto) or serious climaxes (like on Rook), most of Golden Archipelago ends up as beautiful as the cover of the album, but with as little context.
  19. Uncut
    Some tracks sail a little too far into MOR but Meiburg takes care to balance these out with more robust moments. [Mar 2010, p.95]
  20. Mojo
    Don't expect a companion to the "Life On Earth" soundtrack though, even the ballads here are highly strung, some made otherworldly by drones, controlled feedback and mallet percussion, other stung by Meiburg's vocals, gear-shifted from choirboy puriety to anguish. [Mar 2010, p.98]
  21. Q Magazine
    The melodramatic clatter of Corridors and Meridian's airborne melodic spores mark then out as rare species, but their underlying pomposity remains an albatross around their necks. [Mar 2010, p.108]
  22. Luckily, they keep things relatively concise. If this album were any longer, it would be exhausting.
  23. 50
    With Jonathan Meiburg's luxuriant, lachrymose croon topping the slow-cresting violins of this tasteful rock ensemble, The Golden Archipelago will surely satisfy listeners in need of a melodramatic nap.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 22, 2016
    This album is an absolute masterpiece and listening to it in its entirety (which I do almost every week) has become somewhat of a religiousThis album is an absolute masterpiece and listening to it in its entirety (which I do almost every week) has become somewhat of a religious experience for me. This is a flawless album, it aims high and hits its mark in every way. The sounds are diverse, the lyrics are full of both beautiful and ugly imagery of island life and man's destruction of nature. In addition to that, everything is intricately paced and every song feels like it is in the right place. While I prefer the vinyl edition of the album (with the songs "Silver Bodies" and "False Sentinel"), the regular version is extremely rewarding when listened to all the way through.

    Personal favorite tracks are Meridian, Landscape at Speed, Castaways, and False Sentinel
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 16, 2011
    This album(and have no doubt it's an album on the grandest scale) hides so many surprises so many twists and turns that by the end of it's allThis album(and have no doubt it's an album on the grandest scale) hides so many surprises so many twists and turns that by the end of it's all too short running time you are left inspired, breathess and certain you've just made one of the great discoveries of your life. From the haunting opening Meridians to the scrape the sky Corridors you're flown head first toward the intens Missing Islands. A true classic has been delivered. A contender for album of the decade. High praise indeed. Believe. Full Review »