The Magic Place - Julianna Barwick
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Is she singing lyrics? Hard to say. But these songs are unquestionably emotive, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually prayers.
  2. Jun 15, 2011
    80
    Try as you might to explain Julianna Barwick's incomparable, indescribable music, maybe it's best to let The Magic Place do all the talking, because the results speak for themselves.
  3. Mar 14, 2011
    90
    Julianna Barwick is crafting gorgeously effecting sounds in a way that nobody has quite heard before, far beyond the snickering Enya comparisons or the reductive ties to Eno's ambience, this isn't music for thinking or studying, this is just music for living.
  4. Mar 14, 2011
    80
    My only qualm with The Magic Place is with its song structure. Each of the nine songs starts sparsely, weaves into an intricate texture, bulges with layered loops and then tails off.
  5. Mar 8, 2011
    70
    Though her lyrics are incoherent, Barwick tells a story on this album that is up for interpretation depending on the listener as if Barwick created the music just for her.
  6. Mar 7, 2011
    70
    Compared to her two previous releases, Barwick's songs on The Magic Place are much longer and more layered, with a greater diversity of textures and instrumentation.
  7. Mar 4, 2011
    80
    The Magic Place, splendidly, isolates the listener, cuts them off from the world around them.
  8. Feb 28, 2011
    82
    It makes for a remarkable debut full-length-just don't expect to see any of it scoring some slow-motion spinning or pastel unicorns when those Pure Moods commercials make their inevitable comeback.
  9. Feb 25, 2011
    80
    It's filled with memorable moments, digital pieces that are essential towards captivating very human moments without battering with the greater scope of things. It all makes this all-encompassing memory trip worth remembering.
  10. Feb 25, 2011
    80
    The one-woman choir may seem eccentric, but by the last of these nine vignettes, Barwick has accomplished what few purveyors of such pristine beauty can. Through its oddities, The Magic Place shines.
  11. Feb 24, 2011
    80
    It's Barwick's most evocative instrument, one that sparkly piano notes can only help fill the room for, and one with which she diminishes too many comparisons to Panda Bear and other leftfield pop musicians.
  12. Feb 23, 2011
    85
    The Magic Place, her first album for Asthmatic Kitty, stands above her earlier work in virtually every way.
  13. Feb 23, 2011
    70
    Non-vocal tones do occasionally pop up here, most notably some well-placed piano lines, but Barwick's voice is undeniably the focus here, in all its evocative, otherworldly glory.
  14. Feb 22, 2011
    80
    The Magic Place, Barwick's first release on Asthmatic Kitty (after two self-released albums), trails a dreamlike reverie across its 45 minutes.
  15. Feb 18, 2011
    60
    In the end, The Magic Place is a beautiful, ambiguous diversion better suited as a companion soundtrack to some experimental film or art installation than as the debut for a promising young singer.
  16. May 18, 2011
    80
    The Magic Place is her most fully involved album, suffused with the warmth of fond memories and a deep, dream-like resonance. [Jun 2011, p.96]
  17. Mar 29, 2011
    80
    The sense of naive wonder evident recalls the bewitching power of Sigur Ros. [Apr 2011, p.75]
  18. Mar 9, 2011
    70
    There's a warmness and craft there that envelops most cynicism. [Feb. 2011, p. 62]
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Nov 8, 2011
    10
    The Magic Place is not a tree from the Louisiana farm on which Julianna Barwick grew up. It is the state of mind which this beautiful and intelligent record takes us to. Julianna is like a one-woman choir able to stop an ice age. Even when she is wailing, she does it with unsuspected charm. Her ethos of work is pretty simple: turn a single vocal into a multilayered tune by looping it, like, forever. And this works great for you wish these tracks never to stop. This gymnastics requires wit and the outcome is an intricate labyrinth of her glorious voice and occasional instruments. These songs evoke different emotions: there is place for more than just hapiness/sadness dramatics. One is for sure: Julianna never forgets to put her soul into the music. Those who have listened to her Florine EP know what to expect. The penultimate Prizewinning may come as a surprise, though. It is one of the best songs of the year, definitely her best, a triumph of an unstoppable talent. Just like the track itself. Full Review »
  2. Aug 29, 2011
    10
    Barwick achieves what medieval choirs couldn't, creating what could at times easily be a soundtrack to ascension into heaven, all without giving off any sense of religiosity. I heard this music live first, and in a room of standing people I was driven to sit down and close my eyes under the sheer power of its beauty. Full Review »
  3. Jun 30, 2011
    5
    I'm afraid it doesn't work for me very well... There's nothing for me to grab onto and pull down. Neither is there anything that sweeps me up and carries me away... Full Review »