So Beautiful or So What

Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
Buy On
  1. Q Magazine
    May 17, 2011
    60
    A refreshingly upbeat counterpoint to 2006's opaque, Brian Eno assisted Surprise. [May 2011, p.124]
  2. Jun 14, 2011
    60
    Sometimes Simon suffers from a sort of elder statesman's churlishness or cynicism (like a musical version of Grumpy Old Men), which is not entirely appealing, and some of the songs seem a little under-developed. There is, however, enough here to suggests that new Paul Simon albums should be bigger events.
  3. 60
    Paul Simon's ruminations here on love, age and encroaching mortality have a valedictory flavour about them.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. Apr 12, 2011
    10
    Paul Simon's last album "Surprise" ended up being my favorite album of that decade. It was his best work since 1990's "Rhythm Of The Saints".Paul Simon's last album "Surprise" ended up being my favorite album of that decade. It was his best work since 1990's "Rhythm Of The Saints". "So Beautiful Or So What" is as great an album as that. This makes a two album run, from 2006-2011, by Simon that is on par with his "Bookends" & "Bridge Over Troubled Water) run with Simon & Garfunkel, from 1968-1970, or his "Hearts & Bones" to "Graceland" to "Rhythm Of the Saints" solo run from 1983 to 1990. The album is as eclectic as Simon's best & most ambitious works. He & Phil Ramone have still given it a cohesive feel that is as sublime as they often are subtle. Though it comes from a different angle than the Brian Eno collaboration "Surprise" it is nearly as neo-Psychedelic again in the multi-layered depths of sonic thrills that always serve songwriting of the highest order. With these two albums I can safely say that there is simply no one, elder statesman, or newer artist, that is putting out work this challenging & yet accessible, and is as thrilling as it is nourishing. The rock critic Bill Flanagan quoted Elvis Costello, who wrote the liner notes for the album, as saying that this is the best album of the last 15 years. To that I'd add that I'm betting that this early on I've found what will most likely be my favorite album of this decade...that is unless...Paul Simon equals himself again before it's done. And having seen him in 2006, and judging by the recent live performances to promote the new album, he is also still a live force to be reckoned with. He's touring in small halls & clubs with a large band at reasonable prices. He's cut out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy & doesn't smoke either- all in the interest of keeping himself in top condition for recording & performing. Thanks Paul. My advice to anyone out there is to get this album & give it a chance, and do whatever you have to do to catch him on this tour. It's hard to believe that he'll turn 70 this October. With his life choices, and the vitality & magic of the music he's making he seems ageless, and as one marvels at the glorious results of his efforts, you have to wonder if he might not just be able to keep it going on indefinitely. BTW- he's mentioned that he's been recording with his wife Edie Brickell recently. One hopes a full album might come to fruition there, thus breaking yet more new ground for both of them. Check out the video of their duet working with Willie Nelson backing them on "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain". Full Review »
  2. Jun 1, 2011
    3
    Gotta say, I was seriously disappointed by this album. It seems Paul has become more of a poet than a singer. The only song in "So BeautifulGotta say, I was seriously disappointed by this album. It seems Paul has become more of a poet than a singer. The only song in "So Beautiful or So What" that was even remotely catchy was "Getting Ready for Christmas." The rest just seemed like poems set to dreadfully boring musical accompaniments. I know this sounds very harsh, but this album is laughable compared to the masterpiece that was "Graceland" (my favorite record of all time.) You could actually sing along to the tracks in "Graceland". Not so in SBOSW. The only thing this album is good for is for putting you to sleep. Full Review »
  3. Apr 16, 2011
    10
    I'm blown away. I loved the last album, "Surprise", and was concerned as to how he'd possibly follow it up. I needn't have worried. This isI'm blown away. I loved the last album, "Surprise", and was concerned as to how he'd possibly follow it up. I needn't have worried. This is equally as stunning in a different manner. It's an album that is as subtle as is it is sublime. I'm going to be catching him live, two nights in a row & I hope we get to hear lots of songs from this album. I doubt I'll hear anything as stunning this year, if not this decade. Full Review »