Chicago Tribune's Scores

For 392 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 46% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 The ArchAndroid
Lowest review score: 25 Rebirth
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 392
392 music reviews
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Unfortunately, the ambitious concept proves too unwieldy to work as a consistent album.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Dylan’s craggy voice isn’t really equipped for crooning, so the sometimes middle-brow orchestration and singing--particularly the use of backing choirs--sounds like a misguided attempt to sweeten a dish best served lightly salted.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Much of the rest is mid-level and middle-brow, from respected artists who have done better work elsewhere.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    With the Strokes, Casablancas exploits the tension between his behind-the-beat, just-woke-up vocals and the band’s hurtling rhythms. On Phrazes, the slower-moving tempos match the unhurried pace of his distinctive croon, and the melodies and arrangements aren’t strong enough to make up for the loss in urgency.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    His rhyme battle with Eminem on 'Psycho' has zero redeeming value, but the two old pros fire away with glee trying to out-psychopath each other. But about halfway through the album, 50 Cent detours from the street to the bedroom.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Strings, guitars and keyboards add color in carefully measured doses. The songs never develop much beyond their initial verse and chorus and rarely bother with contrasting bridge sections, but that’s the point: No jarring changes to throw off the mood.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The musical detail is impressive, if not quite adding up to as many catchy songs as on the debut. A greater concern is that after two albums, it's pretty apparent that Vampire Weekend doesn't really have a whole lot to say.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The 28-minute length of this album adds to the impression that this feels more like a demo, a collection of fragments woven by Russell into a cautionary mood piece, rather than a major comeback.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Gabriel’s decision to pay homage to the core essentials underpinning these songs is a noble one, he also sacrifices many essential ingredients: rhythmic drive, dynamic surprise, harmonic and textural variety. As experiments go, Scratch My Back ranks as a well-intentioned dud.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The problem is that the songs all have a similar arch, with instrumental grandeur substituting for the previous album’s emotional punch and tears-of-rage specifics.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Both Byrne and Fatboy Slim have built careers on beats, the imperative of activating the hips as much as the brain, and they touch on everything from salsa to Philadelphia soul on Here Lies Love. But too often the needs of the narrative supersede the music, and too much of "Here Lies Love" falls into midtempo blandness.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Songwriters Linda Perry and Billy Corgan (moonlighting from the Smashing Pumpkins), producer Michael Beinhorn--sand down her rough edges and turn Nobody's Daughter into a dreary piece of middle-of-the-road product.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    But as with “Horehound,” “Sea of Cowards” is all about the volatile vibe rather than songs. When the vibe works, it’s a decent approximation of the band’s top-shelf live show. But beneath all the “Hustle and Cuss,” the tunes just aren’t there.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The album definitely could’ve used a little more friskiness; as it is, a horn-spackled version of Derek and the Dominoes’ “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad” and a brisk run-through of the Beatles “The Word” are the only moments where LaVette busts loose from her always heart-felt, but sometimes overly earnest, introspection.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For an artist who has sold 30 million albums, his latest release is brutally short on hooks and, most of all, fun. The subversive humor is long gone, and his cultural references (David Cook? Austin Powers? Yet another dis of Mariah Carey?) remain dated.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    With Praise & Blame, Jones dials down the camp and tries to act his age--he turned 70 in June. So what we get is a more refined, more serious Jones, and that's no fun at all.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Reed's second major-label album, Come and Get It! (Capitol), is loaded with terse, catchy pop-soul songs outfitted with sharp horn riffs, taut guitar fills and bouncy bass lines. It's all done well enough. But when he slows down and attempts a ballad such as "Pick Your Battles," Reed's gusto is no longer enough to mask his limitations as a singer.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Like the similarly star-studded (but bland) "Twilight" and (insufferably twee) "Juno" soundtracks, Scott Pilgrim is something less than the sum of its parts.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The hooks are more pronounced and the bottom end beefed up, which gives Barnes' R&B leanings a lot more dancefloor appeal and makes songs such as the buttery Solange duet "Sex Karma" sound better than anything Prince has come up with in years. But the affectations remain troubling.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The pianist has a malleable voice, capable of swinging from poignance to sarcasm, though sometimes Hornby's dense wordplay can't help but sound awkward in making the transition from the page to the speakers.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    He's a troubadour for the suburbs, a guy who sings about middle-class life with a plainspoken mixture of wistfulness and humor.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It was a promising evolution, but four years later the Scottish band's new album, Write About Love, sounds like old news.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In search of the grandiose, Kings of Leon seem to have forgotten how to rock. It's as if the quartet wanted to become the next U2 so badly that it lost sight of how it got here in the first place.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's the kind of hair-raising music that one wishes occurred more frequently on this overly subdued collection.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    With the relentlessly bland Live It Up, he becomes the latest in a long line of folk-pop singers air-brushed to melt into the pack, not rise above it.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's not that Michael is embarrassing, it's just below par, a warehouse for songs that languished in the vaults for decades because they didn't quite measure up.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Her voice often sounds overly pinched, and the horns come off as gimmicky.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    What better band to cover R.E.M. than R.E.M.? That's exactly what the longtime Athens, Ga., trio sounds like it's doing on its 15th studio album, Collapse Into Now.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Over a clipped backdrop that at times sounds like white-noise static, bell-like notes accent an airy, almost vaporous vocal. The voice belongs to Spears, but it could be anyone's – an anonymous ghost in the dance machine.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's all competently done, but none of it matches the invention of Grohl's drumming in the last decade with Queens of the Stone Age, Probot or Them Crooked Vultures.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Maybe working on a novel distracted Earle, but the feisty dust-kicker of old appears to have taken this one off.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    More problematic are the melodies and the songs themselves; they strive for rousing resonance, a deep sense of loss, but often settle for pat prettiness and easy sentimentality.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In many ways, West and Jay-Z are saying something similar on their new album. But their approach is not to shine a spotlight on their community. Instead, they urge listeners to "watch the throne," and gaze in awe on their good fortune.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    [The] Los Angeles' funk jesters sound like they're treading water.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    At his best, Wayne was positively psychedelic in his wordplay, capable of creating entire alternative worlds out of a few surrealist metaphors. But he sounds slower, more methodical, less unhinged on Tha Carter IV.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Only "Virus" connects in the way Bjork's best work can, uniting the fundamental optimism and wonder underlining this project with music that sounds otherworldly yet welcoming.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Coldplay has a formula, and formula prevails on Mylo Xyloto despite Eno's presence.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Gallagher never turns these slight detours into genuine departures. By not veering far from the Oasis blueprint, he invites unflattering comparisons to his best work.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    "Talk That Talk" sounds like a rush job designed to keep Rihanna rolling through the holidays.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    After all the hub-bub of recent weeks, one of Lee's greatest songs sums up Del Rey's grand entrance: "Is That All There Is?"
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    These songs are meant to swing, but McCartney lets them plod.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Lanegan remains a master of mood, his baritone croon one of rock's most inviting instruments. But even that voice can't patch over the weak spots on this inconsistent album.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    He's written some resonant songs. But he lost his nerve as a coproducer, going for stadium bombast instead of the unadorned grit these stories of hard times demand.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Most of the songs are so flat that the singer sounds constrained.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Chris Brown's fifth studio album, Fortune, is a pure-pop candy cane, meant to be enjoyed, consumed and forgotten.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Armstrong sounds detached, despite a stream of curse words, and the band plays with a machine-like efficiency.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The real issue with Mumford & Sons is its pedestrian songwriting and predictable delivery.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    They sound more like singer-songwriter leftovers from his solo albums than the stuff of which big rock-band comebacks are made.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Despite being hyped as her most "personal" album, Girl on Fire is really just more of the same.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Keef is a remote presence on his major-label debut.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Much of Welcome to Oblivion feels like a 65-minute placeholder akin to a remix album rather than a major new direction for Reznor to pursue.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The production on most of Comedown Machine is off-putting in its chilliness.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It sounds like it was made by the last survivor on a dying planet, a final transmission from an underground bunker.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's almost impossible to screw up Fogerty's sturdiest numbers, but some of his collaborators sound like they're trying too hard to put their thumbprints all over them.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Mostly, this overstuffed album is about Jay-Z and the self-congratulation of his high-powered friends.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It’s an album that discourages sitting still. Too bad the icky lyrics ruin the mood.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Too much of Hesitation Marks sounds tentative.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The lyrics flirt with turmoil--there are lots of songs about holding on or jumping into the fire, and so forth--but don’t really say much of anything.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Though not exactly spiritual, Prism does come off as a more serious--if no less formulaic--album than its predecessor. But being taken seriously may be Perry’s greatest challenge yet.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The sense that we’ve all been here before, twice, is exacerbated by the tired samples and interpolations.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For all that firepower, the music is catchy but tame--she's cozying up to chart-topping formulas rather than disrupting them.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    An army of producers, including will.i.am, Diplo, Dr. Luke and David Guetta aim to keep Spears centered in the hit parade, but don't take many chances.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Kelly is best when he is at his most absurd, comical and over-the-top.... Sometimes, the jokes go too far.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Little wonder the two finest moments ["Hunter of Invisible Game" and "The Wall"] on this otherwise ho-hum Springsteen album are by a considerable margin its most understated.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The album's attempts at shaking up the down-tempo, down-hearted mood fall short.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Variation, once a strong suit of Coldplay’s songwriting, isn’t much in evidence. Over nine songs, Martin and company create a mood and then stick with it--to a fault.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Ultraviolence almost qualifies as a parody. Unfortunately, there's not enough punch in the songs to make listeners care whether she's joking or not.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Songs of Innocence comes off as flat and strangely complacent, even as it pays lip service to youthful inspiration, notably the punk and post-punk of the late '70s.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Clearly, these songs are standards for a reason, and Lennox does nothing to tarnish their legacy or expand it.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The orchestral Storytone comes off as a showy distraction. It's best ignored. Head for the acoustic version instead, which contains a handful of Young's better recent songs, syrup-free.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Twenty years deep into its career, Foo Fighters could've used a bit of a shake-up, if not a makeover, to re-energize its music. But Sonic Highways provides little more than window-dressing on business as usual.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Rather than a personal statement, the music becomes an exercise in smoothness. Even La Havas' vocal power plays don't translate as an emotional imperative so much as a pop formula.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Many of the songs address the notion of transition and change, of leaving one part of life behind and moving into another, and Depression Cherry sounds like the work of a tentative band working through its own transition, unsure of its next move.