Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Sep 19, 2013
    95
    Almost every inch of The Worse Things Get is stout and strong-willed. [No. 102, p.52]
  2. There are hooks here, folks, and literalism fan that I am, I say they're most effective on the strictly reportorial "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu" and the lost-love "Calling Cards."
  3. Sep 9, 2013
    90
    The Worse Things Get is a no-brainer Album of the Year.
  4. Sep 6, 2013
    90
    On this, her latest and most emotionally charged album, she's managed to create a painful outpouring of honesty, one that strikes that coveted balance of both melodic and lyrical expression; her message is equally powerful from each direction.
  5. Sep 6, 2013
    90
    On The Worse Things Get, there’s not a weak song.
  6. Aug 30, 2013
    90
    On The Worse Things Get, Case asserts herself less in a literal sense, but paints the most emboldening and endearing portrait of herself yet. [Oct 2013, p.76]
  7. Aug 30, 2013
    90
    Case has proven time and again that she has the songwriting chops to match her earthy, superlative voice, but never with such authority.
  8. Oct 4, 2013
    89
    Challenging, enigmatic, and melodic don't always go together, but coupled with Case's sleek vocals, they make The Worse Things Get ... a marvel.
  9. Sep 3, 2013
    88
    It’s music, fighting to be wild.
  10. Sep 12, 2013
    82
    The Worse Things Get is a listen that tears and breaks, an album defiant and loud as often as it is anxious and sad.
  11. Sep 5, 2013
    82
    Somehow, The Worse Things Get is Case’s tightest record and also her strangest. With its off-kilter arrangements and eccentric turns of phrase, it’s a world unto itself.
  12. Jan 27, 2014
    80
    Her latest album is a little more conventional but no less arresting. [Oct 2013, p.99]
  13. Oct 22, 2013
    80
    The Worse Things Get is powerful and assured, and in making true of its promise--to fight harder, and to love one’s self in the face of adversity--it pulls off one of the hardest feats there is.
  14. Sep 19, 2013
    80
    A new depth to her prickly but previously sometimes brattish lyrics, a grown-up album by a real grown-up who knows how to sugar-coat a pill for mass consumption. [Oct 2013, p.95]
  15. Sep 5, 2013
    80
    A listless cloud of heartbreak penetrates every crack and many moments teeter on the maudlin, but The Worse Things Get has fight, too.
  16. Sep 5, 2013
    80
    Vitality courses through every song on her sixth album.
  17. 80
    Exposing her honest and disarmed self more than ever, Neko proceeds to open old wounds.
  18. Sep 5, 2013
    80
    The Worse Things Get is another excellent album from Case on a resumé that’s full of excellent albums.
  19. 80
    The melodies are forthright, the arrangements are hand played, and Ms. Case’s voice is open and robust, with the richness of prime Linda Ronstadt and Patsy Cline.
  20. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    This is the unusual album that’s beautiful and ugly, tender but tough, and that much more rewarding because of it.
  21. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    It's a tribute to Case's ever-growing strength as a songwriter that she refuses to take the sharp edges off the vicissitudes her songs depict while still acknowledging the humor and occasional beauty of those edges.
  22. Neko Case’s sixth album is typically sumptuous and lusciously heart-rending.
  23. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    It’s a record that often elevates the listener through its integrity and intensity, and sometimes grates through its failure to find the right music to express its complex lyrical sentiments.
  24. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    Her voice is a bear hug in the literal sense; succumbing to it is like being carjacked by Patsy Cline.
  25. Sep 3, 2013
    80
    Her perfectly turned sixth LP deals with identity and autonomy; it's got feminist musculature and the dirt of a working musician under its fingernails.
  26. 80
    The closing Ragtime offers a happy ending of sorts, but this is too honest a record about unhappiness and grief to deliver a neat, redemptive conclusion.
  27. Aug 30, 2013
    80
    If Middle Cyclone was all about the awesome but unpredictable power of nature, Harder is about the fallibility of one's own self.
  28. 80
    It’s a tremendous listen and a wonderful demonstration of her talents nonetheless.
  29. Aug 30, 2013
    80
    Sometimes her directness is harrowing: Where Did I Leave That Fire? opens with sonar bleeps and a cold ripple of piano, and finds Case all but dissociated from herself: "I wanted so badly not to be me." If this makes the album sound self-indulgent, rest assured it is far from it.
  30. 75
    Much of the album was reportedly written in the throes of deep depression over the death of Case's grandmother. But she came out the other side with a beautiful, insightful record to show for it.
  31. 75
    While the subsequent inconsistency may hold The Worse Things Get back from greatness, it does make it honest, and when it comes to art I’ll take honesty over consistency any day.
  32. Sep 5, 2013
    74
    Visceral and immediate, if this album doesn’t make you feel something, at least we know it did to Ms. Case.
  33. Sep 3, 2013
    70
    These experiments help keep the record sounding fresh, but the best moments come when Case stays within her wheelhouse and swings away.
  34. 70
    The Worse Things Get isn’t about us or even for us. These 40 minutes belong to Neko Case. It’s her cleansing.
  35. 60
    Not an easy listen, but a satisfying one.
  36. Sep 10, 2013
    50
    An album of songs that seem to be about love and loss but never quite connect emotionally, almost as though Case is so wrapped up in seeming ladylike that she never really remembers to let go.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Dec 24, 2013
    6
    A good album. Nothing amazing though. I do, however, enjoy the "Ragtime" track. The music is very uplifting. It's a clever move to put that track at the end of the album. Full Review »
  2. Sep 5, 2013
    9
    This is easily her most sonically inaccessible album since 2002's Blacklisted, and maybe even more esoteric than that. The experimentation, however, is a necessary approach to keep the woman from being known only for her voice; she may, more than most singer-songwriters, need to rely on her song writing abilities more and more as she enters a more established, veteran phase of her career.

    The experimentation is also necessitated by the subject matter loss, resilience, complex reconciliation with angry feelings toward the past and comes off as her most novelistic (as well as autobiographical) effort in a catalog of visually robust songs. The voice, now legendary, serves as the listener's constant, a endlessly flexible yet always familiar entity that guides us through the ponderous, suffocating darkness in the middle of the album and toward the brilliant, rolling light in "Ragtime."
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 3, 2013
    8
    There's a positive change in her music, but her new sounds atmospheric and the rich textures are amazing. Her return is excellent not the best, but she is still a great artist. Full Review »