Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. One of the highlights of their career.
  2. As a pure, balls-out rock n' roll record, Half Smiles of the Decomposed is certianly on par with the likes of Isolation Drills and Universal Truths and Cycles.
  3. 82
    It's ultimately a pop album, reflective and thoughtful, and these songs are just that: songs. [#12, p.97]
  4. The best Guided By Voices album yet. [28 Aug 2004, p.57]
  5. A more pop-oriented approach, with acoustic textures and melancholic tendencies that recall some of the band's finer work. [#7]
  6. In essence Half Smiles of the Decomposed is more overloaded with ideas and styles than any other recent Guided by Voices album, yet the songs still hold together cohesively and the album actually gains in depth from the variety.
  7. True to form, there's a fair amount of unexploded duds mixed in with the direct hits.
  8. The mediocre filler that rounds out Half Smiles' lineup is, sadly, par for the band's late-era course.
  9. Though lacking in innovation, the final GBV album will please any longtime fan that prefers “Game of Pricks” to “Chicken Blows”. Pollard’s songwriting finally feels consistent, fully realized and commanding.
  10. 70
    As a send-off... it's not quite the full parade. [Sep 2004, p.104]
  11. Even though Half Smiles of the Decomposed sounds great, the band plays with impressive skill, and it represents one of Pollard's most successful attempts to balance his low-fi musical impulses against the demands of proper record production, it lacks the ineffable fire and energy that has always set their best work apart.
  12. Finds GBV playing to their long-standing strengths. [Oct 2004, p.124]
  13. Like many of the band's best, it's packed to bursting with sometimes inscrutable pleasures. [16 Sep 2004, p.79]
  14. Too much of Half Smiles of the Decomposed, however, does not rock.
  15. The album isn't a certified classic like earlier GBV favorites "Alien Lanes" and "Under the Bushes, Under the Stars," but it does have a healthy dollop of Pollard's trademark effortless pop perfection.
  16. Those whose expected Pollard to bow out in a blaze of lo-fi glory will be sorely disappointed, but true fans will recognize just how well the mid-fi approach suits Pollard.
  17. Half Smiles of the Decomposed isn't quite the guns-blazing finale I always imagined the last GBV album would be, but it never becomes a limp-wristed approximation of the band in any of its previous guises.
  18. 60
    It's hardly a career-defining collection. [Sep 2004, p.98]
  19. Sounds like every other disc Matador has released by them. [Oct 2004, p.134]
  20. A middle-of-the-road release that, because of the context of the band's end, is the most heartbreaking release of the year so far.
  21. Pollard does boost the voltage like before, but the album's apparent air of consideration is rare for GBV... This doesn't really improve the slipping hit-to-miss ratio GBV has produced for the past few albums, but it does set Half Smiles apart.

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