Upside Down Mountain

  • Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: May 19, 2014
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
Buy On
  1. The album is 55 minutes of simplistic storytelling, Oberst’s ever recognizable vocals and a whole lot of heart. If you’ve been an Oberst fan at any point of his career before 2009, it’s a record that’s easy to fall in love with.
  2. May 20, 2014
    89
    Upside Down Mountain is a great achievement and Conor Oberst’s best work to date.
  3. 85
    Upside Down Mountain establishes the songwriter as a career-musician, one who probably won’t be forgotten for a while yet.
  4. Q Magazine
    Jun 13, 2014
    80
    The characters and stories that Oberst sketches out have never been so fully realised. [Jul 2014, p.112]
  5. May 21, 2014
    80
    By the end, Upside Down Mountain sounds like a rejuvenation. In Wilson, Oberst has found an editor who will reward future collaborations.
  6. May 20, 2014
    80
    Conor Oberst has long exhibited an affinity for reinvention. One thing remains consistent, however, and it’s abundant on his latest: a raw laying bare of emotion delivered with a poet’s ear for lyrical specificity.
  7. May 19, 2014
    80
    All of Mr. Oberst’s gifts align on Upside Down Mountain: his empathy, his unassumingly natural melodies, the quavery sincerity in his voice, the plain-spoken but telling lyrics that he’s now careful to deliver clearly.
  8. 80
    It all harks back to the word-in-your-ear confessionals of ‘Fevers And Mirrors’. Were it not for the whimsical, country-tropical jangle of ‘Hundreds Of Ways’, Upside Down Mountain would very nearly be its equal.
  9. May 19, 2014
    80
    Oberst remains an eccentric--he's not one for obvious hooks, or even insistent melodies--but of all his albums, Upside-Down Mountain feels open-hearted, measured, and bright, the kind of record that opens up a new chapter in a career and possibly wins over new listeners.
  10. May 19, 2014
    80
    A sumptuous immersion in Seventies California folk pop, it is the most immediately charming album he has ever made.
  11. May 19, 2014
    80
    Melodies emerge strongly from these simple musical settings and there's little to distract from his lyrics, which explore solitude and regret--those hoary old staples of US road music - in rich and inventive ways.
  12. 80
    It is also one of his most consistently rewarding efforts since the heady early records.
  13. Alternative Press
    May 15, 2014
    80
    It's still familiar emotional portraiture, but these scenes often appear through a high-powered telescope instead of a magnifying glass. [Jun 2014, p.106]
  14. May 15, 2014
    80
    Some of the fragile innocence may have been replaced by moments of casual philosophy and effortlessly grandiose anthemic pop (‘Zigzagging Toward The Light’, ‘Kick’), but Oberst can still throw out quietly stirring minor epics using little more than a guitar and quiet musings.
  15. May 15, 2014
    80
    The imagery threaded throughout is at once arresting and functions on multiple levels, but perhaps its greatest achievements arrive in the form of songs like ‘Double Life’ and, pertinently, ‘You Are Your Mother’s Child’.
  16. May 15, 2014
    78
    The ever-loquacious monster of folk has a lot to say on his latest record (this one finds him particularly obsessed with time), but it’s his growing mastery of orchestration that muzos might appreciate the most.
  17. May 22, 2014
    75
    Upside Down Mountain suggests that he's starting to move into a new period of his career where he can use his wisdom to write songs that are passionate in a new, more mature way, without having to try to dredge up an old fire that doesn't quite burn as violently anymore.
  18. May 20, 2014
    75
    If Oberst is, indeed, learning to pull back, it’s a work in progress. Most of these cryptic ramblers could lose a verse or two and still make pretty much the same amount of sense.
  19. 75
    Upside Down Mountain shows that quality songcraft is still alive in Conor Oberst, and it is just a little bit of plastic surgery away from being relevant again.
  20. Uncut
    Jun 6, 2014
    70
    It's a record this restless artist can settle into and build on as he continues to mature, because it solves his chronic problems while presenting huim with a newfound sweet spot. [Jul 2014, p.82]
  21. May 22, 2014
    70
    Upside Down Mountain is a curious, if occasionally disturbing pleasure to listen to. Just don't expect answers when you turn it right side up.
  22. May 19, 2014
    65
    On the plus side of the ledger, you can understand what the hell Oberst is talking about most of the time on Upside Down Mountain, which makes it an immediate improvement over Cassadaga and The People’s Key, two albums that somehow managed to be cryptic and pedantic at the same time.... But elsewhere on Upside Down Mountain, he wields populist observation like a politician, trying to utilize his homespun wisdom from an elevated plane.
  23. May 29, 2014
    60
    On the whole, for an artist so spectral and kaleidoscopic, Upside Down Mountain is a pretty sweet ride.
  24. May 20, 2014
    60
    Upside Down Mountain doesn’t take too many chances and, while I’m usually all for evolution, this is a good thing for Conor Oberst.
  25. Magnet
    May 19, 2014
    60
    For possibly the first time ever, it's hard to tell if he's trying too hard or not trying hard enough. [No. 109, p.56]
  26. May 19, 2014
    60
    Oberst's unmistakable voice, songwriting style, and melodic tendencies ground the album, but you have to wade through generic instrumentation and glossy production to find it.
  27. May 19, 2014
    60
    Although Upside Down Mountain could do with a little more lyrical variety and structural experimentation, it is strong.
  28. May 16, 2014
    60
    His songs no longer have the raw-nerve urgency they once did, which makes Upside Down Mountain a pleasantly peaceful listen, but lacking the power and urgency of his best work.
  29. May 15, 2014
    60
    It's a testament to Oberst's enduring versatility that Upside Down Mountain can accommodate the antic creepiness of "Governor's Ball" as well as the transcendent uplift of "Time Forgot," but the album's moments of sentimentality make Oberst sound like just another chart-climbing purveyor of feel-good folky schlock.
  30. Mojo
    May 15, 2014
    60
    Double Life, a thoughtful country-blues, is actually deeply touching, and Night At Lake Unknown is a soft, sweet Hank Williams Lament. the rest can be broadly summerised as Eeyore on Quaaludes. [Jun 2014, p.94]
  31. 42
    Here, as he seemingly aims for something like hard-won, grizzled wisdom, he often trips over his own lyrical ambition.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Sep 21, 2014
    8
    Although this is not his best album, ''Upside down mountain'' confirms Conor Oberst as the best songwriter of our generation. Such greatAlthough this is not his best album, ''Upside down mountain'' confirms Conor Oberst as the best songwriter of our generation. Such great tracks like ''Time Forgot'', ''Common Knowledge'' and ''You Are Your Mother's Child'' show the tender side of Oberst and remind me of the best period of his career, the ''I'm wide awake'' - era. Full Review »
  2. Jul 27, 2014
    7
    Unexpectedly good. I had given up hope on country music and country-influenced music, this charming album comes along.

    While it didn't make
    Unexpectedly good. I had given up hope on country music and country-influenced music, this charming album comes along.

    While it didn't make me fall in love with the genre, it has renewed my interest in it. The music is simple, yet emotionally effective. Conor's voice is one of the best i heard in a long time. The lyrics are just beautiful in how they make you think.

    Of course, not all tracks are equally good. Some are quite forgettable. The majority are great, and my absolute favorites are "Artifact #1", "Double Life", and "Kick".
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 10, 2014
    7
    I'm glad to be listening to Conor Oberst in this away again. I thought before this that he would be lost to country music in his journeyI'm glad to be listening to Conor Oberst in this away again. I thought before this that he would be lost to country music in his journey toward artistic maturity, but maybe not. Some of the stronger tracks on the album contain his trademark feels that I know I long for. In perfect harmony, they're simple stories with breathtaking depth. Often leaving me feeling emotional and thoughtfully provoked. This album is; as gentle as a baby at times, haunting in it's directness and eloquently told. A gradual joy to listen to. Full Review »