• Record Label: Anti
  • Release Date: Mar 3, 2009

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Middle Cyclone is her most fearless and arresting record, ruthlessly composed and beautifully recorded.
  2. Middle Cyclone is the sound of one of the most interesting, independent, and consistently brilliant artists recording today at the top of their game.
  3. All of Middle Cyclone is reliably Case-like, in that it seems unpredictable, unless you’ve listened to Case long enough to understand what she understands: that following fleeting impulses can be as rewarding as it is dangerous.
  4. 90
    Middle Cyclone carries case's unique vision one step further: here, she truly embraces the beast within.
  5. Neko Case hasn't produced a disappointing solo venture yet, and between "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood" and Middle Cyclone, her recent production is the strongest of her increasingly beautiful catalog.
  6. It’s really hard to find anything wrong with the way Case has presented everything and it’s evident that she is only beginning to reign in all of her strengths. It’s an exceptional trait when you’ve been able to combine so many tremendous aspects into one supreme collection of songs.
  7. Less of a departure and more of a confirmation and deepening of everything she’s been exploring over the last 10 years, Case has never sounded quite so compelling as a storyteller, unleashing the full range of her humor, defiance, and despair.
  8. 80
    M Ward and Garth Hudson, members of Giant Sand, Los Lobos and Calexico are all present and correct on Middle Cyclone lending their distinctive instrumental hands--but this ultimately Case’s tour de force, and hers alone.
  9. Case's voice sounds even more huskily, verdantly rich than ever, the more so because she uses it so unsentimentally.
  10. Instead of fixed verses or choruses there are two-chord patterns that run as long as Ms. Case wants, or as short; they might add or subtract a beat, suddenly switch chords or support an entirely new tune in mid-song. Subliminally that rhapsodic approach keeps the songs off balance and suspenseful, ready for every possibility of disaster or exaltation.
  11. Indie rock's favorite (and most prolific) red-headed woman has never sounded more assured than she does on this solo-billed set, a soaring, brisk rumination on love and other matters that comes with a dusty tinge befitting its Arizona roots.
  12. Middle Cyclone is by far Case's most quixotic album, and that's saying a lot considering the abstract ideas behind her last studio album, 2006's "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood." Yet it's also the most revealing and rewarding work in a 12-year recording career that has seen Case evolve from an alt-country siren to a singular songwriter as capricious as a weather vane.
  13. Moody, cinematic, and engaging throughout, Cyclone is another tour de force from Neko Case, if not as immediately arresting as "Fox Confessor."
  14. Singers with powerful voices often gravitate toward material that lets them prove it, but Neko Case demonstrates the power of subtlety on her latest.
  15. Quirky melodies and unpredictable, anti-country structures make it interesting over repeat listens. A mid-career triumph.
  16. The songs here have engaging, melodic hooks to spare.
  17. Her high, hard voice invests her most elliptical lines with warmth, longing and other emotions that any human animal can feel.
  18. Middle Cyclone still stands out as another strong entry from a woman who is more than proving her mettle as a revered indie veteran.
  19. Case is in typically phenomenal voice throughout the record, and her production choices draw from both the dark country of her first few albums and from her work in the New Pornographers.
  20. 80
    Middle Cyclone never lets go enough to take flight; nor does it too quickly wear out its welcome. [Apr 2009, p.110]
  21. Even though Case already pushed the envelope creatively on her previous effort, "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood," she goes one step further, using several homemade instruments resembling a music box and snake charmer's flute. [Apr 2009, p.134]
  22. Case remains her own best muse, a strong, feminine presence who demands you meet her songs halfway (she calls herself a control freak in every article I've read), but her band deserves credit for creating the ambient, dark-night setting in which her tales of murder and animals sound natural and compelling.
  23. Middle Cyclone is the kind of record it's nearly impossible to hate: a pleasantly swirling strum and twang of guitars, gentle percussion, and That Voice.
  24. I’d reject the idea that this album is laid-back in favor of saying it’s too light-hearted.
  25. 70
    Her dream-cinema tales can meander, but Case’s voice will lay you flat, sure as any storm.
  26. At 42 minutes, Cyclone could still lose a few tunes ('Fever,' 'The Pharaohs'), which elongate a back end that never seals the album properly, but in penning almost all of her own material, Neko Case can even get away with a 31-minute final track of cricket song.
  27. 60
    Cyclone might lack the raw beauty of her last project, but Case's emotional honesty is surely a sign that more meaningful transformations are in store. [Winter 2009, p.92]
  28. It’s tempting to conflate the fact Middle Cyclone is less outre than her last couple of sets with the fact it last week cracked the US top three, but there’s nothing particularly sell out-ish about it, and certainly with her lyrical gifts and that incredible voice still firmly intact, it’s hard to even really be that disappointed.
  29. The highlights scatter thinly throughout the disc.
  30. Among the standout tracks and few ho-hummers is enough good poetry to overshadow that which is overwrought, and enough personification to light a small town.
  31. There's the brisk cover of Sparks's 'Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth,' plus a huanting, piano-inspired run through Harry Nilsson's drunkathon 'Don't Forget Me,' but she blows it at the death with the hideous 'Marais La Nuit,' 31 torturous minutes 38 grisly seconds of forest noises. [Apr 2009, p.102]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 46 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. TomB
    Apr 12, 2010
    Great album. But the 31 mins of crickets chirping is hardly lazy. She just added that to fill up the disc. Noone creates a 74 minute album Great album. But the 31 mins of crickets chirping is hardly lazy. She just added that to fill up the disc. Noone creates a 74 minute album ... and the album is 16 songs ... and most just give you a disc with fully blank space at the end. The larger question is why people couldn't figure this out on their own? Full Review »
  2. RickK
    Jun 1, 2009
    As with the other listener who likened his experience with the cd as 'two ships passing in the night', I too was disappointed that As with the other listener who likened his experience with the cd as 'two ships passing in the night', I too was disappointed that I did not immediately tune to the emotions of the lyrics. This one does not rise high for me, but her voice! What a voice. Full Review »
  3. StephenB
    May 16, 2009
    MC is a great album. Consistently enchanting and springing new from track to track. Subtle but brassy. Literate but no nonsense. Lyrically MC is a great album. Consistently enchanting and springing new from track to track. Subtle but brassy. Literate but no nonsense. Lyrically she keeps getting better. She reins in her voice, but I think to really great emotional effect. Then she also pulls some great pop choruses out of her bum. What's not to like? At Tim H and all those grumpy reviewers...If having a looping track of spring peepers after 42 minutes of music is lazy, then what do you call leaving the empty space on a CD filled with absolutely nada. That's what everyone else does. The track is in keeping with the spitirt of the album. It also has its purposes. In the deep latter stages of winter I played that track as background noise and my wife instantly got happier without knowing why! Full Review »