• Record Label: Rounder
  • Release Date: Aug 17, 2010
Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. The direct, spare No Better Than This-Mellencamp even eschews stereo-has a timeless sound and songs that do right by their classic blues, rock, and country inspirations.
  2. Compelling and heartfelt, No Better Than This feels tantalizingly timeless.
  3. It's about people, and Mellencamp continues to write and sing about them better and better with each passing year.
  4. No Better Than This is a step beyond his best work, revelatory and free, the sound of a man who's unshackled from commercial considerations or outside influences. And ironically, it's a record that could've been made in 1954, which means it comes out of the speakers sounding remarkably fresh and new.
  5. Whatever you think of Mellencamp, this is the kind of record that will compel a re-evaluation, an out-of-leftfield shot that mostly works because of its modesty, shagginess and humor--qualities not normally associated with the singer in the past.
  6. For much of the record, Mellencamp is eyeing death and laughing at the devil or, as in the back-porch-folk of "Easter Eve," bonding with his son by brawling with strangers. A little cranky, but far more carefree Mellencamp slips into a rocking chair groove on the lost-lover lament of "Don't Forget About Me" and concedes that he's "spotty at best." Over the course of his 30-plus-year career, sure, but not here.
  7. [A] backstory is meaningless unless there are songs to back it up, and, like Mellencamp's other recent releases, Better more than walks the walk.
  8. Yet behind the period arrangements and the antique haze of the production, they're still Mellencamp songs. They can be wry and plainspoken, like the waltzing tall tale "Easter Eve," or earnest and overreaching, like the attempted workingman's parable "The West End."
  9. No Better Than This proves that good songs need very little to communicate instructive narratives and complex emotions, and that primitive recording methods are still sometimes the best ones.
  10. No Better Than This works as well as it does because it plays to Mellencamp's strengths. His genuine empathy for rural living and his occasional hell-raising both come through in equal measure.
  11. No Better Than This isn't a perfectly honed set. But Mellencamp has never sounded looser or easier on a record.
  12. 60
    It might sound like a stunt, but results in a deeply felt and surprisingly enjoyable exploration of American Vernacular music. [Sep 2010, p.93]
  13. A bit of a gimmick maybe, but one that pays off, with Mellencamp relishing his role as grizzled troubadour steeped in the rootsy traditions of America's rural South. [Oct 2010, p.111]
  14. 40
    The likes of "The West End" and "Thinking About You" are unobjectionable, but mostly have the effect of reminding that there are Steve Earle albums you could be playing. [Nov 2010, p.94]
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Sep 18, 2010
    7
    Its really cool and simple, which is a nice break these days. The only thing that loses points is that a lot of the songs have pretty muchIts really cool and simple, which is a nice break these days. The only thing that loses points is that a lot of the songs have pretty much the same melody and so it gets tiring and repetitive after a while. But its really, smooth, raw, natural and good to the ears. Full Review »
  2. Aug 26, 2010
    9
    As good an album as Mellencamp has ever made, if not the best. Wonderful sound, wonderful songs. The record is indeed 'haunted' as T-BoneAs good an album as Mellencamp has ever made, if not the best. Wonderful sound, wonderful songs. The record is indeed 'haunted' as T-Bone Burnett says in his liner notes, by the ghosts of so many, including the Sun musicians and Robert Johnson and others who recorded at the same historic locations this album was made at. But it is so much more - the album has manged to capture the past and present it so it is meaningful for today and probably the future too. A record for the ages. Full Review »