The Head and the Heart

  • Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: Apr 16, 2011
Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 18
  2. Negative: 1 out of 18
Buy On
  1. If they stick to the melodic folk at the core of their best songs, that fateful open-mic night could be the beginning of something really great.
  2. 80
    The UK edition of their debut has three extra tracks recorded in a church, which damps things even further. But there is still much to enjoy here.
  3. 80
    If well-crafted folk-pop leaves you feeling lukewarm, by all means join the naysayers; otherwise, I'll be on the side of those dancing and singing along.
  4. Q Magazine
    May 25, 2011
    80
    Hardly groundbreaking, but heartfelt all the same. [May 2011, p.116]
  5. Uncut
    May 25, 2011
    80
    It's a long time since a debut album forged its influences into something quite as fresh and rich as this. [May 2011, p.87]
  6. May 25, 2011
    80
    There are plenty of bands who literally spend a decade working up to an album as well-crafted, confident, and powerful as The Head and the Heart, and these folks managed to knock it out in a bit over a year; is they can make this particular bit of lightning strike twice, we may be looking at one of America's best new bands.
  7. May 25, 2011
    78
    The Head and the Heart deliver plenty of both [Americana and chamber pop] when it comes to sing-along meditations and winding Appalachian roads.
  8. Under The Radar
    May 27, 2011
    70
    Their glowing harmonies, sense of movement, and emotional build capture the heart in ways other bands can only dream about. [May 2011, p.78]
  9. May 25, 2011
    70
    The debut by this Seattle indie-folk group suffers slightly from an abundance of niceness.
  10. May 25, 2011
    70
    For all the humming and picking, the songs feel too similar to each other to hold interest throughout.
  11. Aug 5, 2011
    60
    Moments of delicate introspection such as Winter Song and Josh McBride (from their Chapel Sessions) aside, their straining for both authenticity and jollity can bring to mind people knocking on your door wielding pamphlets.
  12. May 25, 2011
    50
    More problematic are the melodies and the songs themselves; they strive for rousing resonance, a deep sense of loss, but often settle for pat prettiness and easy sentimentality.
  13. May 25, 2011
    42
    Though the songwriting is sturdy, the choruses hearty, the melodies time-tested, and the recording vibrant, The Head And The Heart falters most on account of Jonathan Russell and Josiah Johnson's pre-packaged, Cracker Barrel lyrical conceits.
  14. Sep 13, 2011
    40
    There's potential in the chemistry, but no daring.
  15. 40
    They may have plenty of heart but their heads are lost in the clouds.
  16. May 25, 2011
    40
    The songs are surely poppy, but their catchiness rests more on the sweetness of the vocals, and the pleasant mix of guitar and piano over measured drums. The hooks rarely stick out in the mix, so that little distinguishes their sound from other bands treading similar musical ground.
  17. 40
    Even as singers Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson's voices flow together swimmingly over Charity Thielen's violin, the album never truly succeeds at living up to its name.
  18. May 25, 2011
    38
    Conceptually, they're close to Mumford & Sons: opportunistic in their borrowings, yet entirely unimaginative in the execution. Theirs is a thoroughly timid, tentative take on Americana: roots music without the roots.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Dec 10, 2013
    0
    Repetitive and derivative., but at least it's repetitive.

    Over sentimental, overly borrowed, overly styled, overly lacking in content. I'm
    Repetitive and derivative., but at least it's repetitive.

    Over sentimental, overly borrowed, overly styled, overly lacking in content. I'm sure there's someone trying on a tight fitting grey pleather jacket and seeing which pouty face goes with it and I'm sure this person likes the band and would make an impassioned argument against my claims. If it wasn't for the uninspired live performance I may have kept said opinion to myself. But sister, this is a cruel world and some people are gonna knock the stuff you like. And sister, sometimes they're right.
    Full Review »
  2. Feb 27, 2017
    5
    This is an enjoyable album to listen to, it serves as decent music for casual listening but that is all. The lyrics are not particularlyThis is an enjoyable album to listen to, it serves as decent music for casual listening but that is all. The lyrics are not particularly creative and the melodic arrangements of the songs are predictable and uninspired.

    The song rivers and roads seems to be an anthem of millennial uncertainty, and while some may find it relatable, its discussion of changing times is trite. The songs follow rather predictable patterns, verse, courus etc swelling guitar cords and the occasional delicate sound of a piano or violin. While well executed by talented musicians it is uninspired in the sense that I have heard that same sound from other bands.

    However this should not detract from a persons enjoyment of this album; while their music itself is forgettable the memories I made with my friends while listening to the head and the heart are quite fond.
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 9, 2016
    10
    Sorry user davidson, but this album isn't either of the two negative things you mentioned.

    It's both original and is quite far from being
    Sorry user davidson, but this album isn't either of the two negative things you mentioned.

    It's both original and is quite far from being repetitive.

    Give this album a listen from an amazing band that might have had it's best work on it's first wide release album, which is getting more typical these days.

    I have some great memories attached to this album and with good reason, it's can hit you in the feels very often and can catch you singing along without even knowing it.
    Full Review »