Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. Jun 30, 2011
    100
    Pitiless Censors is a sparkling album, a lo-fi synth pop masterpiece that manages to give endless aural delights while still being intellectually engaging, and despite having been caught at the center of a whirlpool of current movements, all of which reflect some aspect of Maus' style, he has only cemented his identity as a singular, unimpeachable figure.
  2. Jul 8, 2011
    84
    Maus has a full set of songs whose architecture is just as sophisticated and riveting in actuality as it is in theory.
  3. Aug 8, 2011
    80
    American producer conjures up dazzling electronics. [Aug. 2011, p. 123]
  4. Jul 15, 2011
    80
    Anyone who's enjoyed a fruitful encounter with Ariel Pink's home-recorded oeuvre should also find plenty to love about John Maus. [Jul 2011, p.91]
  5. 80
    He has incorporated some New Wave signposts, with a little melancholy disco, constantly refining what might be the right kind of landscape for his deeply yearning, compelling vocal.
  6. Jul 12, 2011
    80
    This [Closing number "Believer], the apotheosis of the album, is overwhelming, and like the rest of this excellent record, exists in a hazy netherworld that can be a discomfiting place to inhabit. But stick with Maus, and you're with him on his profound and affecting spiritual journey.
  7. Jul 7, 2011
    80
    It's hugely enjoyable, even without any theoretical justification.
  8. Jun 30, 2011
    80
    So wonderfully compelling is it all that it's easy to miss how seriously impassioned Maus can be.
  9. Jun 30, 2011
    80
    From chintzy keyboards to karaoke-style performances, Maus exaggerates the stereotypically artificial to tap into something real.
  10. Jun 30, 2011
    80
    On his third album, John Maus continues his pursuit of immediacy-in-action mixed with a certain calm, developing a further tension that infuses both his music and words.
  11. Jun 30, 2011
    80
    Unlike Before Today, Maus' third release is less moody, more consistent in its sense of oddness and intrigue. We Must Become... is also consistent in that nearly every track manages to top what came before it.
  12. Jul 6, 2011
    75
    With just a touch of enunciation and a dash of well-placed bombast, these songs could be bona fide hits.
  13. Jun 30, 2011
    72
    As a whole, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves doesn't necessarily offer the highs of his past two albums, or something as immediate as "Rights for Gays," but it is a remarkably cohesive listen.
  14. Aug 17, 2011
    70
    Where the vocals are murky, the synthesizers have a queasy over-clarity, poised somewhere between the repellent and the sublime. [Aug 2011, p.58]
  15. Jun 30, 2011
    70
    It makes sense that the conceptual gravitas behind an album like this wouldn't have enough fuel for 11 songs (the originals of this scene weren't necessarily known for their full-lengths) but it certainly would've been amazing to see him pull it off. Specific, loving, authentic, but limiting, it may leave us wanting more--but there's no doubt that John Maus made the album he wanted to make.
  16. Dec 12, 2011
    60
    If the original Assault on Precinct 13 soundtrack had been made by a time-shifted Let's Dance Bowie, you'd be most-way there. [Aug. 2011, p. 104]
  17. Jul 28, 2011
    60
    This is where the irony comes in--he sacrifices most of his originality to referential tropes. Through successfully emulating noteworthy keyboardists of the past, he nearly obliterates his own identity as a practitioner. It's not that he isn't good, either. He's too good.
  18. Jul 8, 2011
    60
    Maus sounds as pretentious as his album title when he's at his least self-censorious, delivering empty, eye-rolling provocations on Cop Killer and Matter Of Fact.
  19. We Must Become often hints at Joy Division's stylish brand of post-punk ennui, but by treating it as little more than a gimmick, Maus loses the urgency that makes Curtis's music so endurable.
  20. Jun 30, 2011
    0
    The album is filled with garage-sale synths flooded with reverb and nary a hook to be found, sounding, at best, like an unfinished video-game score ("Hey Moon") and, at worst, like a Human League track played backward in a Walkman taped to the skull of a drowning man ("Head for the Country").
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Nov 14, 2011
    10
    Without a doubt one of the saving graces of the year, this album increasingly becomes all you need to listen to each time you return to it. Each song specializes on melodies that grow into mantras more than earworms, which makes the short time-frame not only convenient but essential. Whereas lo-fi is usually panned to either the "sacrifice for prolificness" or "limitations of intimacy/obscurity" arguments, here the production quality is totally irrelevant, although it detracts some people to the point that it's all they notice; to really understand how inseparable and intrinsic it is to the music, you really need to study Maus's character - interviews of him are themselves exponentially entertaining and worthwhile. The commoner's aesthetic, classic ear for melody, and charming optimism of John Maus on this record and in general make WMBTPCOO the Little Red Book of the post-pop, post-creative-quagmire, post-depressing-post-spinoffs era. Full Review »
  2. Oct 4, 2011
    4
    This one is tough. Is it a pastiche or just bad production? Anyway, itâ
  3. Jul 26, 2011
    9
    John Maus's 3rd album is a funny release. It tests the listeners patience by hiding the vocals in the back of the mix and fortifying them with walls of synths. A winter album released in the summer. Stand out tracks:
    Streetlight, Believer, Quantum Leap. Punching way above his weight this will most likely be my choice for album for the year.
    Full Review »