• Record Label: Barsuk
  • Release Date: Aug 23, 2005
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. It fully merits high praise as both the best work of Vanderslice's career and easily one of the best albums of what has been a refreshingly strong year for music.
  2. It’s apparent that this album was made with particular care, as most of John Vanderslice’s works are, but there are many cases where a more mature display of music appreciation is taken; previously, when met with such dogged emotional complexity, Vandersilce would rely on experimentation. Here, he stares straight on.
  3. Pixel Revolt is the sound of a man trying to come to grips with the larger questions--the "why?" questions--and, if nothing else, the sheer attempt makes this an essential album for our troubled times.
  4. Some might wish this gift for fastidious arrangements would carry over to the lyrics, which feature a bevy of look-it-up references and descriptions that might stymie attempts at easy listening. It doesn't hurt to do a little research or, like, pay attention to lyrics worth a damn.
  5. John Vanderslice has not created a compelling first listen. Perhaps, and only time will tell, he has created a compelling lifelong listen.
  6. Vanderslice's stories differ from those on earlier albums largely in setting, but Pixel Revolt's musical elements have taken an astonishing leap from their predecessors.
  7. Pixel Revolt simply and beautifully reminds us that no matter how great a rock producer is, songwriting talent is as essential as it’s always been.
  8. There’s just something about it --- I like Pixel Revolt, and I like it a lot.
  9. 80
    In some ways, shedding the epic storytelling has given Vanderslice a more universal appeal. [#69, p.111]
  10. A relatively warm, easy-to-embrace effort. [2 Sep 2005, p.79]
  11. Pixel Revolt doesn’t reconcile the political and personal, and that may be the point. But it nonetheless makes for a frustratingly uneven listening experience.
  12. In the end, I am hesitant to say that this is Vanderslice's best album; however, it is undoubtedly his most rewarding. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time with it.
  13. 70
    Much like Sufjan Stevens (but without the history professor schtick) Vanderslice is a one-man orchestra of plucked and bowed strings, living-breathing organs and lullaby vocals that narrate his musical characters with explicit detail. [Sep 2005, p.114]
  14. 70
    What keeps the songs interesting isn't his understated singing but his delectable arrangements. [Sep 2005, p.138]
  15. Pixel Revolt feels, at the end, like two EPs packaged together and passed off as a full-length. The justification could be made that the fierce, angry and frustrated responses to international armed conflict and girlfriends leaving are very much the same, though that would seem to be kind of a stretch.
  16. Lacks both a unifying theme and any broad cohesiveness, houses a number of terrific, tough-to-forget songs, and stumbles hard when Vanderslice wets his toes in murky lyrical waters.
  17. 70
    Like a series of melancholy one act plays. [Jan 2006, p.131]
  18. Vanderslice's detached delivery of this riveting material, combined with the somnolent string arrangements, makes Pixel Revolt feel like a chilled-out remix of a book-on-tape recording. [Sep 2005, p.158]
  19. An uneven album that encapsulates much of what's gone flat in the scene he helped ferment, along with the few flourishes that make him a vital creative force.
  20. An immaculately produced album, sonically and lyrically complex, but not necessarily engaging. [#10, p.107]
  21. The production is crisp and idiosyncratic as usual, but many of the songs fade into the background.
  22. Maybe it's the squeaky-cleanness of the sound and singing both that keeps me at a distance; a band like Okkervil River, both sonically and thematically similar to Vanderslice, succeed partially because they don't mind screaming and getting clumsy.
  23. 50
    Vanderslice is tortured and diffuse even by Death Cab standards. [Sep 2005, p.109]
  24. More often than not his approach feels too clinical to really engage. [Apr 2006, p.120]
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. alixs
    Mar 12, 2007
    8
    John Vanderslice is sassy.
  2. JustinJ
    Dec 22, 2005
    9
    Demanding lyrics coupled with top notch production quality lead to one of the best albums of the year in my book. Vanderslice's site Demanding lyrics coupled with top notch production quality lead to one of the best albums of the year in my book. Vanderslice's site reveals the story behind many of the songs as well as production notes for the record. Full Review »
  3. JohnV.
    Sep 7, 2005
    9
    One of the best solo albums ive heard in a long time recommended