Songs Cycled - Van Dyke Parks
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Aug 16, 2013
    75
    Songs Cycled completes Parks' transformation from oddball torchbearer to full-on musical time capsule. [No. 101, p.59]
  2. Aug 9, 2013
    80
    It carries the manic, youthful energy of Parks’s very best works, plants itself deep inside the listener’s brain as though tapping into some deep American (meaning in this case both North American and West Indian) musical unconscious, and magically holds together as a single, unified and exhilarating listening experience despite its meandering through a dauntingly wide range of material and approaches.
  3. Aug 7, 2013
    70
    It seems unlikely that the artist will ever be widely recognized for his contribution, but in the meantime, Songs Cycled should provide energy and inspiration for VDP evangelists everywhere.
  4. Jul 29, 2013
    70
    Van Dyke Parks' first new material in almost 20 years shows his kooky-genius orchestral Americana (see his work on Brian Wilson's Smile and Joanna Newsom's Ys) to be as inspired as ever.
  5. 80
    Whatever Parks might work on in the future, Songs Cycled is the perfect reminder of his deserved status for those that had been content to let him sit on the fringe.
  6. Jul 23, 2013
    85
    He brings it all home with the final track of the album--and this work, accompanied by artwork and liner notes from some of the world’s best contemporary artists, is intended to be taken as a whole.
  7. Jul 22, 2013
    70
    Songs Cycled is a striking reminder of Van Dyke Parks' songwriting strength and deft arranging touch (see the reworking of his classic "The All Golden") for those already in the know; for others, it might just make the perfect introduction to a legend so ahead of his time that his 1968 masterpiece is just now getting its due.
  8. Jul 22, 2013
    70
    The impossibly orchestrated compositions on Songs Cycled are constantly unraveling and being wound back in, making them a little bit hard to keep up with at times, but something amazing to behold nonetheless.
  9. Jul 16, 2013
    75
    There’s nothing musty about his arrangements, a sharp melding of pop melody and new-classical harmonics. Parks also brings a wry and pointed flair for political and social commentary.
  10. Jun 5, 2013
    80
    There's a handful of new material, all displaying superb arranger's skill. His unusual voice has improved too, broadening and mellowing from that nervous tenor of old. [May 2013, p.58]
  11. Jun 4, 2013
    60
    Inimitable, occasionally impenetrable, but never less than intriguing.
  12. May 28, 2013
    80
    Songs Cycled--cheeky, geeky, and critical as ever--is his most approachable take on the whole sprawling mass yet.
  13. May 20, 2013
    60
    It's a joy to hear VDP's mission with the boosted clarity of 21st century production. [Jun 2013, p.87]
  14. May 13, 2013
    60
    A collection of songs that are either from or reflect different eras of his work--all linked by his idiosyncratically engaging vocals and melodies. [Jun 2013, p.108]
  15. 80
    Songs Cycles certainly doesn’t represent all that Van Dyke Parks has to say about the state of the modern world, but the album does manage to assuredly illuminate Parks’ singular artistic vision and his enduring impact on the music of our times.
  16. May 8, 2013
    80
    Songs Cycled has everything you’d want from Van Dyke Parks and from an album. By being true to the Van Dyke Parks’ perception of what an album should contain, his music sounds as though it is from a different planet.
  17. May 6, 2013
    90
    Songs Cycled is opaque and entirely accessible. [Jun 2013, p.80]
  18. May 6, 2013
    72
    At best Songs Cycled deals in quick-pivot moments.
  19. May 6, 2013
    80
    In spite of his reputation as a collaborator, Parks remains the very definition of a musical auteur.
  20. 60
    Behind the rococo charm lurks a subtle emotional power.
  21. 60
    Those coming fresh to Parks may find his reedy voice, and his warping of time, requires some adjustment.
User Score
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No user score yet- Awaiting 2 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jul 26, 2013
    7
    Beautiful melodicism and ornate instrumentation combine to make a heady mixture, despite Van Dyke Parks voice which is an acquired taste, though well worth getting used to in order to access this achievement. Full Review »