The Instigator - Rhett Miller
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. These tracks lack the magnetism of Miller's material with the band.
  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. 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.
  8. Offers 12 diamonds that aren't quite total pop or total rock--but fall in a wonderful zone somewhere in between.
  9. 30
    Shallow and superficial. [#56, p.101]
  10. The songwriting is self-assured and thoughtful; the album is unified as a pastiche of romantic musings.
  11. 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.
  12. One of the year's best pop albums.
  13. Too self-consciously crafted for its own good.
  14. 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.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. jamesl
    Oct 6, 2002
    9
    a pop gem
  2. BenC
    Oct 5, 2002
    9
    I am an old fan of the 97's, and of course was kind of bummed to see Rhett go solo for this album, but I bought it and I think it's I am an old fan of the 97's, and of course was kind of bummed to see Rhett go solo for this album, but I bought it and I think it's great! Too Far to Care is my fav 97's CD, and while some of his songs on this album may seem kind of soft and poppy, if you imagine them with more aggressive instrumentation you know that Rhett Miller's songwriting has essentially remained the same. I give it a 9 because I don't want to seem like a fanboy. Rhett Miller is a great artist, and I hope he hits it big. Full Review »
  3. S.E.Johnson
    Oct 3, 2002
    5
    If you love the song "Oppenheimer" from the Old 97's Fight Songs album, then you will love the new Rhett Miller. It is poppy and happy, If you love the song "Oppenheimer" from the Old 97's Fight Songs album, then you will love the new Rhett Miller. It is poppy and happy, even when trying to be sad. It rings a little empty without the rockin backing guitars and vocals from the rest of the guys in Old 97's. Overall, I found it to be boring and repetetive. Full Review »