Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Lookout Sea paradoxically Silver Jews' most complex and most accessible work to date. Better yet, it improves with each listen, as more and more nuances and links are revealed.
  2. It is no small feat to write melodies as memorable as Berman's exceedingly quotable lyrics, but on each song here, he does. Lookout Mountain is an outstanding work of art.
  3. 86
    Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is the most assured and poignant album since the band's third, "American Water." [Spring 2008, p.97]
  4. While his deadpanned wit is ever the disarming device on the band’s sixth album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, it’s balanced with a decidedly sober appraisal of life’s monumental hardships and meager redemptions. [Summer 2008]
  5. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is the logical next chapter in this manuscript which has had many of us hooked since the opening lines.
  6. 80
    Clean, reverbed electric guitar chime and twang gorgeously and the production is simple and simpatico, but it's Berman's strange yet archetypal-sounding tales of gulible skinsmen and prisons built from sweets that keep you coming back for more. [July 2008, p.108]
  7. 80
    However unappetizing it may first appear, this is grimly funny food for thought.
  8. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea reveals more poetic, as well as playful, layers with each listen--and above all, underscores what an inviting songwriter Berman is, whether he's taking a darker or lighter approach.
  9. 80
    Musically, his sixth Silver Jews album is a low-key treat, country-inflected folk rock goosed by melodies that conjure both the Velvet Underground ("Open Field") and Johnny Cash ("Candy Jail").
  10. If alt-country were truly alternative, it might sound more like Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, especially on 'What Is Not But Could Be If,' where Silver Jews leader David Berman's booming vocals run as deep as anything this side of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen in their prime. [July 2008, p.151]
  11. But everyone involved--Berman, his wife Cassie on bass, various Lambchop alumni--evidently delights in each song's peculiarities, and their pleasure can't help but suffuse the listener, too.
  12. As always, Berman and the Silver Jews work best in their classically sharp, witty song stylings and deftly produced Americana constructions. And most of the songs here exhibit just that.
  13. As a vehicle for Berman’s words, just as much as a follow-up to his 1999 poetry collection "Actual Air" would be, Lookout Mountain is a volume to be consumed in one’s own time, filed on the shelf, and eventually taught in seminars as an example of form and poise.
  14. If this isn’t the band’s best yet, it’s still damn good.
  15. Erudite, Whiskey-Soaked, alt countryish maverick just keeps getting better.
  16. Lookout lacks the piercing insight of Berman’s best work––those Old Testament and American Gothic retellings laced with sarcasm and self-loathing. At the same time, there’s a casual quality to this set that trumps the belabored tangle of the last go-round.
  17. Lookout doesn’t have the feel of a major step forward for the Silver Jews: sonically, it falls pretty comfortably between "Bright Flight" and "Tanglewood" and doesn’t have the sort of big events that marked those two records.
  18. There’s not much here that will elevate the band beyond their current status. Bermanites will still revel in his idiosyncratic lyrics, and they can even play along thanks to an insert that lists all the chords used on the record.
  19. Although the record is on the slight side--there’s simply no replacing the inexorable, existential pushing forward of 'Dallas' or 'Smith & Jones Forever'--Berman still has a knack for catching you off guard with moments of strange beauty.
  20. A warm, enjoyable effort, but perhaps short on the Jews' best asset: Berman himself.
  21. Taken as a whole, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea stills far short of the Silver Jews’ seminal statements--namely 1998’s "American Water" and 1994’s "Starlite Walker"--but its mix of mischief and melancholy provides more than enough to keep David Berman in the game he continues to reassuringly and unpredictably play on his own terms.
  22. He delivers everything that makes Silver Jews records great, but he's fallen victim to his own past successes: the peaks and valleys that made "Tanglewood Numbers" such a dizzying listen have been smoothed down and filled in, leaving the faithful with an album that is merely good.
  23. I prefer to think of Lookout Mountain as an album of pretty-good songs from a guy who has written some unbelievably great ones, and will, more than likely, write some more of that quality down the road.
  24. He hasn't lost the sardonic smarts, but there's a sense of lightness--the playful, country-ish rock is more playful and country-ish--that by its nature removes some of the gravity and graveness of his songs.
  25. On an album so brief, these less effective songs take up an awful lot of space, making for a record that is fun throughout, but still awfully uneven. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is hit and miss, but its missteps come as a result of admirable risks.
  26. 40
    At his best, Berman used to refract sage-with-guitar tropes into dryly perverse insights; but this time he's just smothering them in weird phrases. [July 2008, p.76]
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. NicholasC
    Jun 18, 2008
    9
    One of the best Silver Jews albums easily. Outstanding lyrics all around, hardly a skippable track to be found. Big improvement on Tanglewood One of the best Silver Jews albums easily. Outstanding lyrics all around, hardly a skippable track to be found. Big improvement on Tanglewood Numbers. Carrie's singing is better than ever and doesn't feel forced on any of the tracks. Highly recommended. Full Review »