Nepenthe - Julianna Barwick
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Aug 27, 2013
    90
    In taking her sorrow, turning it on its head and finding inspiration in another magical place, she has produced something powerfully, uniquely transcendent: something vast and expansive, intimate and affecting all at once.
  2. Aug 22, 2013
    90
    It will give you, near exactly, what you put into it. That’s what makes Nepenthe relevant: its masterfully complex compositions come across as simplistic; they’re accessibly intellectual.
  3. Aug 19, 2013
    90
    It's not only her biggest and most ambitious production to date, but also the album that best showcases her gift for communicating complex emotional entanglements so simply and clearly they become almost weightless.
  4. Aug 19, 2013
    90
    This is a profound and giving music.
  5. 90
    Nepenthe is a very special album, one which doesn’t sound like anything else around but which also sounds like music you have unwittingly known your whole life; the quiet hum of life itself, re-appropriated and expertly sculpted into a shape where all of it’s complexity and simplicity feels a just that little bit sweeter.
  6. Aug 8, 2013
    90
    This is the exquisite album we were promised, and perhaps an important one.
  7. Aug 8, 2013
    90
    While it may be a tremendously personal album for Barwick, you can get lost in Nepenthe for not only its sheer beauty, but for its ability to evoke visual cues and tell stories with its music.
  8. Nepenthe isn’t The Magic Place, but it certainly sounds like she’s found another special site of inspiration. Thankfully for us it’s just as prodigious and marvellous as anything else Barwick has put out before.
  9. Aug 23, 2013
    85
    You sense feelings of longing and unease all over Nepenthe, which makes it a less blissful place to spend time than her previous album. But that also makes it a much more cathartic listen, and perhaps a more rewarding one.
  10. Aug 23, 2013
    80
    Appropriately, the Brooklyn ambient-musician’s incandescent-yet-stentorian release acts as a warm and pacifying salve for the heartbroken and exultant alike.
  11. Aug 23, 2013
    80
    Barwick takes time coming into focus; her actions sound remote, at first, quieter and less fulfilled, but it’s the kind of album that creeps up to you, asks for your hand and takes you to a different place entirely.
  12. Aug 22, 2013
    80
    Created during Iceland’s dark, cold winter, Nepenthe’s intimate vibe immediately warms and envelops. In short: mesmerizing.
  13. Aug 20, 2013
    80
    The album is gorgeous, almost an abstraction of what musical loveliness could be.
  14. Aug 15, 2013
    80
    Like Grouper before her, she’s wonderful at exploring those liminal spaces, washing over and subtly overwhelming you.
  15. Aug 15, 2013
    80
    It may seem strange to get so excited about a record of vocal loops, but Barwick continually proves that truism that art isn't about elements but what you make of them--and this latest album is simply sublime.
  16. Aug 13, 2013
    80
    Nepenthe finds Julianna Barwick's already established wash of angel tones and free-floating radiance newly influenced by the breathtaking, often alien wonders of her host country. [Sep 2013, p.90]
  17. Aug 8, 2013
    80
    A special album from a special artist, Nepenthe is, indeed, an album that leaves thoughts of others absent as it plays out its otherworldly dance.
  18. 70
    Her songs sound even more spaced out and unreal than ever.
  19. Aug 26, 2013
    70
    Depending on your tastes, Nepenthe either marks Barwick's progression to a higher, more emotionally powerful and resonant place, or she's managed the musical equivalent of Instagramming her album.
  20. Aug 16, 2013
    70
    It's all beautiful and entrancing, but what's missing is a sense of discovery. [No. 101, p.52]
  21. Aug 13, 2013
    70
    Nepenthe is more ambitious than its predecessors, more varied in style and execution and sonically richer.
  22. Aug 8, 2013
    60
    It's not much of a move forward, and arguably a step back. [Sep 2013, p.85]
  23. Aug 26, 2013
    50
    There is beauty on Nepenthe, but it’s altogether too clean and self-regarding to pack much of a punch.
  24. Aug 15, 2013
    50
    Nepenthe pushes the formula to [a] breaking point, where emotional manipulation crosses over into cloying, calculated and claustrophobic. [Aug 2013, p.53]
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Aug 29, 2013
    6
    Expands on the sound of the previous album, The Magic Place. Relaxing and serene, the music is quite beautiful. However, while consistency is a good thing in an album, some of the tracks sound too much alike. Overall, i liked the album. My favorite tracks are The Harbinger and Crystal Lake. Full Review »
  2. Aug 22, 2013
    8
    This album follows the beauty of The Magic Place but in a more celestial sound. As always the music is amazing but in sometimes is more of the same.