Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
Buy On
  1. Jun 30, 2011
    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.
  2. Jun 30, 2011
    So wonderfully compelling is it all that it's easy to miss how seriously impassioned Maus can be.
  3. 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.
  4. Jun 30, 2011
    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.
  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 28, 2011
    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.
  7. Mojo
    Dec 12, 2011
    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]
  8. Jun 30, 2011
    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.
  9. Jul 8, 2011
    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.
  10. Jul 8, 2011
    Maus has a full set of songs whose architecture is just as sophisticated and riveting in actuality as it is in theory.
  11. Jun 30, 2011
    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. Q Magazine
    Aug 8, 2011
    American producer conjures up dazzling electronics. [Aug. 2011, p. 123]
  13. Jun 30, 2011
    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").
  14. Jun 30, 2011
    From chintzy keyboards to karaoke-style performances, Maus exaggerates the stereotypically artificial to tap into something real.
  15. Jul 6, 2011
    With just a touch of enunciation and a dash of well-placed bombast, these songs could be bona fide hits.
  16. Jul 7, 2011
    It's hugely enjoyable, even without any theoretical justification.
  17. The Wire
    Aug 17, 2011
    Where the vocals are murky, the synthesizers have a queasy over-clarity, poised somewhere between the repellent and the sublime. [Aug 2011, p.58]
  18. Jun 30, 2011
    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.
  19. Uncut
    Jul 15, 2011
    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]
  20. Jul 12, 2011
    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.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Nov 14, 2011
    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.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
    This one is tough. Is it a pastiche or just bad production? Anyway, itâ
  3. Jul 26, 2011
    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 themJohn 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 »