Hyacinths and Thistles

  • Record Label: Merge
  • Release Date: Sep 5, 2000
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. These music box songs never overstay their welcome.
  2. These 14 tracks forego the polish that distinguishes today's chart-topping fare, but each one bristles with a frisson in which honesty and artifice fuse, fashioning an enduring mini-masterpiece of pop.
  3. 80
    As with all Stephin Merritt productions, the real stars are Stephin Merritt's wonderful songs, and the 14 love songs on Hyacinths And Thistles are as sweet and prickly as the title suggests.
  4. Select
    80
    With only the occasional flawed moment and the cast list up a definite notch or two from previous 6ths album 'Wasp's Nest,' this is a delicate jewel. (Oct 2000, p.104)
  5. In contrast to the 6ths' blissed-out "Wasps Nests," which included indie credibles Lou Barlow and Georgia Hubley, "Hyacinths" mines cabaret territory.
  6. Confidently ridiculous and matter-of-factly wise, the 6ths record is a lovely collection of songs about pining, yearning, coveting, aching, "kissing the bottle wishing it was you." Needless to say, it's also quite funny.
  7. The first album from The Sixths was a dirge-like affair, but the new one's delightful.... The maturity of Merritt's songwriting lends emphasis to the singers' voices and interpretive powers; more often than not, they avail themselves capably.
  8. Picking up where Wasp’s Nest left off, Hyacinths and Thistles finds Merritt constructing a complex sonic playground in which a host of guest vocalists have come to frolic. While the songs might initially be Merritt’s, each vocalist manages to transform each piece into something uniquely personal.
  9. 70
    Hyacinths and Thistles takes a grab-bag approach to whisper-soft pop, though, at times, the lullaby vibe dangerously teeters between being appealingly fey and overly precious.
  10. While memorable tunes abound, and at least one left-fielder scores (Sixties folk-pop singer Melanie returns, singing like Tom Waits channeling Lotte Lenya), the 6ths largely seem inclined to preach to the converted.
  11. The 6ths is all about incongruity (where else could you find Gary Numan, 70-year-old folk diva Odetta and Sarah Cracknell sharing space?) and as such it`s an eclectic affair.
  12. The biggest difference between the two 6ths records is obvious: Wasps' Nest allowed some of indie rock's finest vocalists to lend their talents to a grade-a batch of Merritt tunes; Hyacinths and Thistles pairs remarkably average Merritt songs with largely substandard vocalists.
  13. Stephin Merritt's the 6th's second album isn't nearly as dynamic as his Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, nor is it quite as good as the first 6th's album, Wasps' Nests. It is, however, another crowning achievement for Merritt.
  14. 40
    Hyacinths and Thistles is not even a 6th as good as Wasps' Nests.... these vocalists have two things in common: a cold demeanor and a predilection for high drama.
  15. Alternative Press
    40
    Dominated by sparse instrumentation and lyrics that are merely good... relatively lifeless tunes. [12/2000, p.115]
  16. [Merritt] leaves vocal duties entirely to his guests here, an impressive group that includes new-wave forebear Gary Numan and '70s warbler Melanie alongside an all-star collection of indie-rock fixtures. Unfortunately, he's given them some of his weakest material to date, delicate but forgettable songs that often sound like discarded leftovers from 69 Love Songs.
User Score
tbd

No user score yet- Awaiting 2 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. TimT.
    Oct 20, 2001
    9
    Hard to fault the songs--the finest, most-sustained collection of Merritt's work. The only shortcoming I can see is the writing style Hard to fault the songs--the finest, most-sustained collection of Merritt's work. The only shortcoming I can see is the writing style forces the singer to adopt Merritt's own vocal delivery. To be honest this is so minor a criticism as to be almost pointless Hyacinths & Thistles is what they are listening to in heaven Full Review »