Z - My Morning Jacket
Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. An album you should definitely own, and a band you should definitely watch.
  2. Z is intuitive, intensely creative, classicist-minded, nearly flawless.
  3. The first My Morning Jacket whose songs reach the heights to which James's voice aspires.
  4. MMJ’s musical palate has radically expanded: the reverb and alt-country trappings remain, but they no longer dominate the band’s aesthetic. In nodding to U2, John McLaughlin, Sunny Day Real Estate, Mercury Rev, The Clash and countless other icons through a holistic approach to the pop canon, James and his band mates refuse to let sonics define them.
  5. So Z abandons the Skynyrdisms of It Still Moves, but that album's lessons remain intact: Compared to those on previous albums, these tracks have more guitar crunch and tighter song structures.
  6. By trimming thirty minutes off their standard record’s length, the members of My Morning Jacket have paradoxically managed to broaden their sound, cutting the fat to give us ten songs that jive, moon-walk and cock-rock in equal measure.
  7. There is an emphasis on keyboards, in pulse and architecture, that adds buoyancy and color to James' writing and flatters his keening, stratospheric tenor.
  8. What you can expect is what makes My Morning Jacket tried and true: bigger-than-life lyrics, classic rock swagger, and the need to move forward.
  9. Dialing down the reverb and allowing more wide-ranging influences to show through, My Morning Jacket fashions a messy, transitory record that's head-over-heels giddy, curiously experimental, and patently weird in equal measure.
  10. Unfortunately, four of the 10 tracks are deeply pedestrian, heartland rock.... Worse, presumably - like Charlotte Church - tired of having the voice of an angel, several songs find Jim James singing with the voice of a brickie.
  11. Yes, it may not hew faithfully to past MMJ records, but its wide-open range perfectly exemplifies the group's adventurous spirit.
  12. Not as big and bright as 2003's It Still Moves, yet with the early-career sprawl edited out, Z's as lovingly worn as a vintage clothing score.
  13. Z seems like just the beginning of a whole new phase.
  14. It's hard to argue with any album that possesses the virtues Z does: James' voice, one of the most astonishing instruments in rock; a band who, turnover notwithstanding, play like they've been doing this for decades; a sense of delight that often eludes young men with guitars; and songs that let you use the descriptor “rocks” without fear or shame.
  15. It's both rare and marvelous to hear a good band make its first really great album.
  16. This music has the serene lilt of pop and the hope of sentimentality but also the gravity of unconventional responsibility. Rather than roaring, this music sears.
  17. While parts of previous My Morning Jacket albums sounded sloppy, Z is crisply-produced and markedly more refined, in part due to co-producer (with James) John Leckie.
  18. By balancing progression with consolidation, technology with tradition, MMJ have created a work of stunningly expansive ambition. [15 Oct 2005, p.36]
  19. Z is the point of light where My Morning Jacket loses any stereotype or easy niche, and instead becomes a huge, absolutely necessary rock band. [#11, p.108]
  20. "Z" moves away from the more overt Band and "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" references, closer to a convergence of Who-like playfulness and drive with R.E.M. mystery. [2 Oct 2005]
  21. 100
    With Z, My Morning Jacket have left their comfort zone, assumed the mantle of firebrands, and delivered a truly momentous work. [Oct 2005, p.96]
  22. Z is their OK Computer, an album of scope and resonance that lasts far longer than its 40-minute run-time. [Oct 2005, p.162]
  23. 90
    [A] triumphant resurrection. [Nov 2005, p.96]
  24. Z proves they have not lost the magical intimacy that touched 2001's At Dawn and '03's It Still Moves. [Nov 2005, p.127]
  25. 70
    The band's warm way with weirdness remains; it's just flashier now. [Oct 2005, p.140]
  26. 93
    Z is a great record--more expansive than its predecessors and less tunnel-visioned too. [#17, p.94]
  27. They evoke the musical essence of various titans while achieving a wholly distinctive sound of their own. [7 Oct 2005, p.73]
  28. 91
    In spite of all their stony sonic exploration, they never let Z turn into Zzzz. [Oct 2005, p.133]
  29. A bold leap forward. [8 Oct 2005]
  30. 80
    Diehards may crab about these more experimental sounds, but it's hard to find fault with the James gang for not only climbing out of its rut, but also leaving it far behind. [#69, p.104]
User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 222 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 9 out of 144
  1. Dec 22, 2010
    10
    This is one of my favorite albums. It's simply amazing. Jim Jame's vocals are simply astounding. His voice is beautiful. This is in my top ten greatest rock albums I've ever heard. "Wordless Chorus" is just an amazing starter. You can really hear Jim's voice the best in that song. And "Lay Low", my favorite song on the album and one of my favorite rock songs I've ever heard, has THE greatest guitar solo I've ever heard. It's just awesome. All In All, This is one of my favorite albums to date and it never gets old. A Full Review »
  2. Jul 10, 2013
    9
    All around great album. Awesome tunes with a mellow/laid back feel. It's just great. The real jewels of this album are "Dondante", "Wordless Chorus", and "Lay Low". Highly recommended. Full Review »
  3. Jul 28, 2012
    7
    I barely discovered this band today, and I instantly fell in love...until I heard this album. First three tracks? Great.

    Everything else
    was garbage until I heard "Lay Low," then the rest went back to being garbage. Full Review »