Sound the Alarm

Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
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  1. Jul 8, 2013
    88
    El-P has never sounded more scathingly unhinged as an MC. Killer Mike, who brought an urban philosopher’s mind set to “R.A.P. Music,” conjures that same level of intensity when he rains down insults alongside his new sidekick.
  2. While the presiding atmosphere is retro, the Avila brothers' production keeps things properly real.
  3. Mojo
    Aug 9, 2013
    80
    Jones's playing is inventive throughout, comparing favourably to his work with the M.G.'s. [Sep 2013, p.86]
  4. 80
    Anthony Hamilton provides another [highlight], bringing a gospelly spirit to “Gently” Elsewhere, Raphael Saadiq and Gary Clark Jr lend their talents to the great party groove “Fun”.
  5. Aug 8, 2013
    80
    For every step back, however, there are two steps forward: most of the tracks find Jones collaborating with some hot young artist.
  6. Uncut
    Jul 31, 2013
    80
    Booker T can still effortlessly access the pleasure principle that transcends musical trends and fleeting fashions, with an instinctive grasp of groove and momentum that speaks directly to heart, feet and head alike. [Sep 2013, p.84]
  7. Jul 26, 2013
    80
    Fun, the track which is most obviously Booker T, is ordinary, and Feel Good is so-so; Can’t Wait, despite Estelle’s distinctive vocal, suffers from gimmickry and is the track with the least of Mr Jones on it.... The rest of the album, in which the veteran meets current talent, is mostly great.
  8. Jul 8, 2013
    80
    This quick, free joint project is comparatively frizzy, and doesn't leave a bruising stain of forced mind expansion--just a pleasant memory of good times had by reclaiming “jewels” from the corporate overlords of mainstream rap.
  9. Jul 8, 2013
    80
    Killer Mike gets the most quotable lines, turning simple statements into punchlines and investing each syllable with a sense of rhythmic possibility; you’re never sure exactly which word in a given line he might decide to pluck like a stray beard hair.... Despite abandoning some of the more layered and mannered production flourishes of his solo work, El-P still packs these songs with stray details--the roar of a tiger, those gorgeous organs, the squeal of a dolphin--that can be jarring on first listen but gradually reveal themselves to be essential.
  10. Jul 8, 2013
    80
    They’ve refined their scope to create an album that you want to blast out of your car, your house party--or ideally a boombox having been transported back to a street corner in Eighties New York.
  11. Jul 8, 2013
    80
    It’s a harsh listen that’s likely more obscure to casual, Top-40 listeners than R.A.P. Music. That’s too bad for them, because Mike and El-P seemingly unleash every item in their B-boy tool kit this time around.
  12. Jun 27, 2013
    80
    Sound the Alarm is the sound of summer.
  13. Jun 27, 2013
    75
    This album, produced chiefly by Jones and/or the Avila Brothers, has the hallmarks of those great Memphis sessions of yore--sultry organ work, a lithe rhythm section and lots of meaty horn accents--with touches that bring it comfortably into the 21st century.
  14. Q Magazine
    Aug 20, 2013
    60
    True, the Estelle-sung can't Wait sounds out of place, but elsewhere this is an estimable example of making things just like they used to. [Sep 2013, p.99]
  15. Aug 19, 2013
    60
    Overall, Sound The Alarm is an experiment that sometimes wildly succeeds, sometimes pleases, sometimes bores, and sometimes crashes and burns.
  16. Aug 12, 2013
    60
    The standard remains high throughout, from neo-soul man Mayer Hawthorne's strong vocal on the opener and title track to the blues jam with Jones's son, Ted which closes the album.
  17. Jun 27, 2013
    60
    The funky soul groove template that Jones helped create in Memphis some 40-plus years ago never really goes out of style. One wishes there were more of that here.
  18. Jun 27, 2013
    60
    Iz and Bobby Avila (aka the Avila Brothers) produced and co-wrote the bulk of the tracks, and those are the most successful. It would have been smarter, though, to use them for the whole album, as the smattering of generic blues jams and guest showcases seem tacked on and out of place.

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