Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
  1. Its charms sink their teeth in fast and deep.
  2. The interplay between lazy strumming and everything-in-its-right-place arrangements effectively rewrites the history of the garage-rock revival, drawing a line between "Last Nite" and Tom Petty and erasing the denial that "Maps" was the biggest song that scene's brief heyday produced.
  3. This is the sort of record you’re gonna put on when the sun’s shining and you just need some good old pop-rock.
  4. Their performances sound more confident than ever.
  5. This too-brief set of 10 songs is both a break with the past and a fervent glance toward the future.
  6. It's Never Been Like That reunites the quartet with the kind of jubilant, foot-pumping power-pop that, at best, is informed by the brevity of new wave and the breeziness particular to pre-punk West Coast rock.
  7. All that's standing in the way of a major breakthrough is a certain facelessness, exacerbated by Mars's reticent style.
  8. A change in demeanor accompanies this change in style, however, and it's a turn for the worse: Phoenix now gesture at being a Serious Group with Something to Say.
  9. Like That gives new meaning to the word "alive."
  10. The excessive genre-bending of their debut has been exchanged for a dilettantism honed to a much sharper point.
  11. This is the kind of record the Strokes and countless other newfangled pop/rock groups have been trying to make over the first half of the decade. But nobody's done it with such effortless flair as Phoenix.
  12. A puny, ill-conceived record in comparison to both Alphabetical and its predecessor United.
  13. If you enjoy the genre and can stand the glare bouncing off the album’s shiny surface, you’ll likely find plenty to like in It’s Never Been Like That.
  14. It's Never Been Like That has the necessary edge of real art, but it's approachable right down to the final song, "Second To None," with its deep echo and thin lines.
  15. If 'It's Never Been Like That' is a failure, at least it's not a boring one. [20 May 2006, p.31]
  16. Phoenix still hasn’t overcome the faults of their previous efforts. [#14]
  17. 80
    Like a walk through an alternative music encyclopedia. [Jun 2006, p.113]
  18. Though you might have pangs for United's enjoyable weirdness, It's Never Been Like That is serious fun.
  19. A lively album with a strong melodic sense. [Aug 2006, p.90]
  20. 60
    The overwhelming sense is of a group needlessly hobbling themselves. [Jun 2006, p.110]
  21. If It's Never Been Like That sees them rocking out by their own standards, they're still a sweat-free prospect by most others. [Jun 2006, p.118]
  22. 40
    For all the frenetic energy, lush orchestration and earnest vocals, however, It's Never Been Like That has the feel of the work of a hollow band. [Jun 2006, p.110]
  23. One wonders if the qualities that make Phoenix appealing--breeziness, insouciance--will ultimately translate into enduring music. [26 May 2006, p.105]
  24. If there were ever an album that fulfilled the requirements for a “summer album,” this is it; Phoenix offers songs that offer little in the way of innovation or substance but a wealth of top-notch musicianship, catchy melodies, and transcendent choruses.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Jul 18, 2013
    8
    It's Never Been Like That is an excellent follow up to their first effort, United, though it differs in style and production quality. WhereasIt's Never Been Like That is an excellent follow up to their first effort, United, though it differs in style and production quality. Whereas United had areas that were rough around the edges, It's Never Been Like That feels finished and well polished. Phoenix begins to carve out their niche in cheery rock-pop with tracks like "Consolation Prizes" and "Rally". Later in the album, tracks such as "Sometimes in the Fall" grow more introspective, as well as "North", which paints a beautiful snow-scape as the only instrumental on the album.

    All considered, It's Never Been Like That does a good job at what it was trying to do- develop Phoenix into a well rounded group capable of rock-pop that pleases anyone with an ear for music.

    P.S.
    (The phrase "It's Never Been Like That" surfaces on the track "Long Distance Call")
    Full Review »
  2. ShaneL
    Oct 20, 2006
    10
    I just came across this bank on XM Radio, XMU. I can't quit listening to it, and its the first time a cd's been good enough to buy I just came across this bank on XM Radio, XMU. I can't quit listening to it, and its the first time a cd's been good enough to buy off i-pod just because I can't wait to get to the store. I love cool new music, just rare to find anything mainstream anymore. Full Review »
  3. SeamusS
    Sep 20, 2006
    10
    An inescapably catchy album filled with some of the most brillaint and fast hooks in my knowledge of contemporary pop. The album flows An inescapably catchy album filled with some of the most brillaint and fast hooks in my knowledge of contemporary pop. The album flows without one week track, paced out beautifully without filler. The second best album of 2006 by far. Full Review »