The Instigator - Rhett Miller

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. One of the year's best pop albums.
  2. Offers 12 diamonds that aren't quite total pop or total rock--but fall in a wonderful zone somewhere in between.
  3. Sung with the versatile confidence of a star, and impeccably assisted by ace producer Jon Brion, The Instigator's songs feel instantly familiar in the best way possible.
  4. 80
    Miller ups the melodic ante, staking his claim to becoming his generation's answer to Nick Lowe or Marshall Crenshaw. [#10, p.123]
  5. 80
    Miller explores his usual subjects -- getting out of places and into relationships -- with more unusual touches.
  6. Though much of Instigator is merely pleasant, its fantastic first five cuts have the feel of the most happily heartbroken radio station on earth.
  7. The songwriting is self-assured and thoughtful; the album is unified as a pastiche of romantic musings.
  8. Any imperfections Miller has on this album were already there in Old 97's and shouldn't deter fans. The chances he takes are slight but bold -- a little more sincerity, a little more musically risky.
  9. Miller offers more than enough quality material here to justify stepping out on his own: what he's occasionally lacking in energy, he largely makes up for with craft.... That said, it's unlikely to instigate much beyond some afternoon head-nodding, and even some of Miller's fans will be somewhat put off by the album's borderline MOR sound.
  10. Fans of the Old 97's most recent work will surely snap The Instigator up with glee; in fact, anyone who likes their guitar pop sprinkled with a little angst will be pleased with what Rhett Miller has come up with on his own.
  11. Hearing Miller's unmistakable singing and songwriting style without Murry Hammond's backing vocals and the rest of the 97's chunky country-rock-pop behind him seems a little less than it could be.
  12. These tracks lack the magnetism of Miller's material with the band.
  13. Too self-consciously crafted for its own good.
  14. 30
    Shallow and superficial. [#56, p.101]

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