Past Life Martyred Saints

Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. May 13, 2011
    90
    EMA's work is simultaneously some of the most interesting I've heard in years, and jaggedly alive, the furthest thing from any sort of academic exercise.
  2. May 10, 2011
    90
    Past Life Martyred Saints is an album that leaves a mark.
  3. 88
    Past Life Martyred Saints is more focused and confident than the work of many of Andersen's peers. It's likely we've not even heard her best yet. And even if not, this is pretty sweet as is.
  4. From epic opener "The Grey Ship," to the equally epic closing track "Red Star," Past Life Martyred Saints is an album that captivates, provokes, and pleases.
  5. May 10, 2011
    85
    Past Life Martyred Saints is a fiercely individual record, made by a musician with a fearless and courageous approach to her art. Crucially, the desire to let such raw emotion out in song never feels forced.
  6. Insofar as she pretends her willful pose is the holy truth, she's annoying. What saves that pose is the willful power of a presentation less Courtney Love or Chan Marshall than PJ Harvey.
  7. Aug 8, 2011
    80
    The most intense moments in Past Life Martyred Saints are evocative enough to drag you back through your own most overblown emotional crises, but when the buzz fades, you are plopped back into the halcyon present, strangely empty.
  8. Jul 11, 2011
    80
    It's not always the most comfortable thing to listen to, but like the proverbial car crash, it's hard to tear yourself away.
  9. May 25, 2011
    80
    She has a huge talent for drama--when to build, when to break, when to whisper or coo or yell, when to camp a while in a looping melody and when to move on--and the album's 37 minutes feel majestic and unhurried.
  10. Mojo
    May 16, 2011
    80
    Anderson never sounds too like any of those people for comfort, she just projects a similarly high level of sinewy individuality. [Jun 2011, p.94]
  11. May 16, 2011
    80
    This powerful debut was a long time in the making, but Past Life Martyred Saints will win Andersen new fans as well as thrill longtime ones.
  12. Uncut
    May 13, 2011
    80
    Raw in texture but ambitious in scope. [May 2011, p.86]
  13. May 13, 2011
    80
    Though Gowns foreshadowed a lot of what Anderson is about (avant-garde noise-folk, elliptical lyrics), going solo has allowed her to make something genuinely personal and almost frighteningly honest.
  14. May 10, 2011
    80
    Past Life Martyred Saints sounds as if it's trying to save rock, but without any winks or nods.
  15. 80
    A new, added tunefulness makes this a much-welcome Exile In Nihilist-ville.
  16. 80
    A record that is both magical and heartbreaking, Past Life Martyred Saints looks to be a beautiful start for Anderson, who has a small handful of live shows set up for the summer.
  17. May 10, 2011
    80
    Not easy, but often fascinating, wholly rewarding and genuinely cathartic.
  18. Nov 30, 2011
    70
    As an album, a glorious rawness and disregard for verse-chorus-verse simplicity runs throughout, but it strains for cohesion.
  19. May 16, 2011
    70
    While the ennui is predominantly directed inward-with such lines as "I wish that every time he touched me left a mark" ("Marked") rasped so convincingly it's tough not to feel her emotional wounds--it's impossible to dismiss Past Life Martyred Saints as mere navel-gazing.
  20. May 12, 2011
    70
    Despite the often dull music, the album is an overall cohesive success. It all ties together well, and it owes its quality to the unwavering confidence of her delivery, both musically and lyrically.
  21. May 10, 2011
    70
    This is labour intensive listening, but hard work reaps rewards. A gnomic, genre-busting album.
  22. Q Magazine
    Jun 8, 2011
    60
    With her debut, the former member of art-noise cult Gowns sounds like she would quite literally rip out her heart as a sleeve adornment if it served her creative purpose. [July 2011, p. 111]
  23. May 10, 2011
    60
    Blending hi-tech and lo-fi, modern synthesised sound and old-fashioned song writing, her work plumbs torrid emotional depths, similar to alt-rock stars such as Lou Barlow.
  24. 60
    Lyrically, there's a pervasive fascination with California outsider culture that soon palls, though the troubled relationship excavated in "Marked" suggests a deeper vein of inspiration may yet be mined.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Oct 2, 2011
    8
    Whenever I listen to EMA, Anna Calvi comes to my mind. The two singers have a lot in common: they both have released their debut albums thisWhenever I listen to EMA, Anna Calvi comes to my mind. The two singers have a lot in common: they both have released their debut albums this year, each of them touches on dark matters, even the LP covers are somehow similar. Finally, they both rock. EMAâ Full Review »
  2. Jul 6, 2011
    9
    This is simply an excellent album, with haunting lyrics, and mostly minimal instrumentation. My only problem with it is that is a littleThis is simply an excellent album, with haunting lyrics, and mostly minimal instrumentation. My only problem with it is that is a little short. But if you are a fan of alternative music, I recommend you pick this up as fast as possible. Full Review »
  3. Jan 21, 2012
    9
    EMA's debut album is one of the finest releases of 2011. It has everything to become a sort of classic in the following years. Every singleEMA's debut album is one of the finest releases of 2011. It has everything to become a sort of classic in the following years. Every single song is crafted with sentiment and depth. Full Review »