The Independent (UK)'s Scores

  • Music
For 1,360 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 43% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 54% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 5.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 67
Highest review score: 100 None the Wiser
Lowest review score: 20 Exile
Score distribution:
1360 music reviews
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Overall, the album offers a surprisingly successful transformation that somehow enables one to hear this most familiar of material as if through new ears, a remarkable achievement in itself.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    His symphonic-soul innovations here would map out the course of much 1970s soul music, while his use of multi-layered vocals – the happy result of an engineer accidentally running two vocal takes in the same mix – added an extra element to Gaye's vocal armoury which he would use extensively throughout the rest of his career.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Though spoilt in places by distortion and too-prominent electric piano, the hitherto unheard material is notable for the innovative exploration of yet another roots blend, through the impassioned country-soul of songs such as “That’s the Breaks”. Clearly, in this most congenial of creative cauldrons, virtually anything was possible.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It remains one of pop's most impervious generational touchstones.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The character of the base music here is overwhelming: complex, ebullient and life-affirming, and in yoking this intricate dance music to his sophisticated New Yorker sensibility, Simon created a transatlantic bridge that neither pandered to nor patronised either culture.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Proving that it is possible to have too much of a good thing, the five discs of this outtakes-and-all edition take the (let's be honest) rather meager delights of Brian Wilson's unfinished "masterwork" and wring the life out of them.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's an extraordinary collection, which demonstrates exactly why Guthrie was perhaps the only performer who could square the circle pointedly implied by the title American Radical Patriot.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This album isn't a 'Holy shit I need to text my friend imploring them to listen immediately' mind blower, but it is a valuable addition to his oeuvre.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    So although Cave’s adept grasp of vocal expression, from aching melancholy to erupting hysteria, guides the narratives of these songs, this is not simply a singer backed by a band, it’s a unit striving for collective expression, by whatever means possible.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Notwithstanding the occasional foray into jazz and blues, Black Messiah is much the same blend of miasmic boudoir soul, bare-bones funk and liberation songs that characterised his 2000 milestone, Voodoo.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    They pushed the single envelope in various directions – processional chants, electric-organ improvisations, big-band “space bop”, and at the furthest extreme of his sonic galaxy, the furious free-jazz of “Cosmo-Extensions”, guaranteed to clear the floor at any party.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The result is beautiful, visceral and, predictably, emotionally devastating.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Like Picasso, he acknowledges that the chief enemy of creativity is good taste--which is just as well, since it's not a quality with which he seems over-burdened on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. For which we should all be thankful.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Twenty-five years ago, Lifes Rich Pageant found R.E.M. metamorphosing from what was effectively a turbo-charged folk-rock cult indie outfit into a proper rock band capable of filling stadia.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It all adds up to probably the best Stones album since... well, since Some Girls, actually.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    This 1991 album is the best of three reissues of their work – also available are their debut, Isn't Anything, and a 2CD compilation of outtakes and EPs.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    [It is] possibly the band's best album.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Macero’s edits on the original double-album collaged four nights’ shows into a single, 20-minute track apiece; but this 4CD set presents each night’s ebullient flow in full.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Lemonade is fiery, insurgent, fiercely proud, sprawling and sharply focused in its dissatisfaction.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's a relief to report that Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down is his best effort by far since Chavez Ravine.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Gently marching strings furnish an aptly martial underscoring for the conflict imagery of “Treaty”, the latest of Cohen’s romantic mea culpas, which reveals how, for a Great Seducer, love is an essentially narcissistic, even solipsistic, pastime, its protagonist apologising “for that ghost I made you be”. It’s just one of several sharp, stinging twists casting new and unusual shadows on old themes in You Want It Darker, culminating in the mordant, bitter advice of “Steer Your Way.”
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's simply marvellous, an unalloyed joy from first to last, with Robbie Robertson's finely wrought storytelling songs augmented by a few well-chosen covers.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Fuelled by a black humour that’s almost become her trademark, there’s heartbreak and ecstasy, desire, fear, uncertainty, acting on impulse, making mistakes and (maybe) learning from them. And those are tunes we can definitely dance to.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Finally, maverick genius Sly Stone receives due respect in this four-disc retrospective, as the leader of rock's first multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-genre band.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The 10 albums that comprise this box set depict one of the most extraordinary career arcs in all of pop music, testament to the questing intelligence with which Joni Mitchell approached music.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    All in all, it’s a fine addition to the seemingly bottomless corpus of Springsteen’s ever-expanding oeuvre.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Four decades on, it sounds as revolutionary as ever.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Despite the hiatus, this guest-laden double-album finds the group still very much engaged, rattling out tongue-twisting, articulate verbal flows dealing more with social realities than self-aggrandising brags and outlaw fantasies.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rarely have his revelations been as direct, or as personal, as on Carrie & Lowell, a cathartic exercise exploring the effect of his estranged mother Carrie’s death on him two years ago.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Though frowned on by some purists expecting the traditional fare of the family band The Watersons, the siblings’ original songs were eagerly accompanied by luminaries like Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson and Ashley Hutchings, who bring a roguish enthusiasm to tracks such as “Rubber Band”, on which even the horns seem to have their cap at a jaunty angle.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    These 15 pieces sketch an entire world of music, coloured by the locale, and shifting between the smoothly lyrical and the propulsive rhythmic.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Kouyate's electrification of his ngoni lute is just as effective a sign of resistance: fed through a wah-wah pedal, his serpentine, fleet-fingered lead lines gain a fresh, assertive power on songs.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Throughout there’s a determination to find the appeal in paradox, notably the beguiling blend of cool and cumbersome that carries the love song “Prince Johnny” to another place.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This is music of stellar quality, from the smirking masturbation anthem “Low Yo Yo Stuff” to the berserk wizardry of “Big Eyed Beans from Venus.”
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Notionally a five-track EP, M3LL155X is in its fullest realisation an art film/performance (co-directed and co-choreographed by her), freely available on YouTube.... Musically, it’s a more focused, coherent application of the same kinds of sounds and vocals used on LP1.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Though already condemned by Van himself, there's much to appreciate about this 4-CD expanded edition of one of the greatest albums ever recorded. It's fascinating to follow the development of a track such as "Caravan" across half a dozen takes.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Her follow-up to 2013’s sublime Pushin’ Against A Stone finds Valerie June expanding her unique blend of blues, soul and mountain music to create a distinctive hybrid in which past and future coalesce with gentle power.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Save for the chunky “Don’t You Wait”, there’s little punch or pop charm to the album, which boasts a surfeit of luscious textures and feisty attitudes, but a shortfall of killer melodies.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Thoughtful, engaging and utterly contemporary, it’s one of the albums of the year.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As usual with Newsom, the deeper resonances resound louder with subsequent exposure.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    An album which contains no filler at all, each track blooming in its own way like a collection of strange desert succulents, with a whole lot of hollerin' and a touch of Lieber-Stollerin'.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Drawing on the embattled, hopeful possibilities of early Seventies soul, rock and folk, its chamber-classical and folk instrumentation allows for pleasure as well as despair. This is a Radiohead album to make you feel, better.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Too many tracks, however, suffer from a shortfall of melodic potency, and a lack of lateral development, especially in longer pieces such as the 12-minute sci-fi musings of “Black Screen” and the declamatory nine minutes of “How Do You Sleep?”.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It belongs in that hour when the sunlight dims, everyone leaves the park, the disposable barbecues are smoking abortively, the makeshift Lilt bottle bong's started to taste like shit and you don't know whether to go back to bed or fritter away your last tenner in town.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Killer Mike and El-P bring typically sharp, visceral observations, chugging beats and superb guest artists onto their most successful studio effort to date.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The first line of the first song encapsulates the adolescent angst which blossomed over and over throughout the band's career, with varying degrees of wit, empathy, contempt and self-pity.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Roots' 13th album may be their best.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Songwriter Tim Elsenburg makes great strides forward with an ambitious cycle of songs about identity and history.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s not so much that she’s changed direction completely, as that she’s drained her art of the obfuscating sonic blabber to leave her pop aesthetic.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    V
    It’s playful and elaborate.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There’s prodigious ambition here, and moments of great pleasure.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    David Bowie releases the most extreme album of his entire career: Blackstar is as far as he's strayed from pop.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [The first three] tracks follow fairly seamlessly on from MBV's previous work, but thereafter subtle changes are applied that tug the album into pastures new.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Less structured and song-oriented than Channel Orange, it’s a long, meandering ramble through Ocean’s passing interests and attitudes, hopes and memories, alighted upon like scenes briefly glimpsed from a train window and then dropped into tracks that aren’t so much sung as delivered in an undulating sprechstimme that seems to be avoiding the difficult choice of a compelling melody.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Southeastern finds him working in a more stripped-down manner which focuses attention firmly on his songs. Fortunately, they're brilliant: vivid, multi-faceted tales of souls adrift.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    With the hindsight afforded by this monumental 17-disc career retrospective, he seems somewhat less than The One, an idiosyncratic talent undermined by MOR inclinations.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The chief virtue is the immediacy that courses through tracks like “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” and “Fall of the Star High School Running Back”.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Bulging with 55 previously unreleased outtakes, Come All Ye is an education, and as entertaining as it gets.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Bjork’s Vulnicura represents a return of sorts to standard song form after the experimental Biophilia, its nine long tracks evoking the emotional confusion following a break-up.... But throughout, Bjork’s own vocals are the stumbling-block.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The determination to include generous dollops of each member’s solo output means that the acoustic set sags badly. But the obscure material is welcome.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Here, deprived of Crazy Horse and Young’s tectonic lead guitar, “Powderfinger” assumes its natural form as an antique folk ballad, while the haunting “Pocahontas”, minus overdubs, is likewise more nakedly vulnerable.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like their Discovery LP which laid fresh pathways for pop and dance in 2001, Random Access Memories breathes life into the safe music that dominates today’s charts, with its sheer ambition.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Bouger Le Monde offers a celebration of life.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Everything about the album is fragmented, and dizzying in the vein of Samuel Beckett’s Not I or T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land. Even the lyric sheet is a glorious mess.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Not only did they change the course of rock music; they also sustained an inspired creativity for almost two decades, something that the career arc of this retrospective brings into focus, right down to the Bacharach-esque touches of the final unreleased tracks, which pleasingly bring things full-circle in certain ways.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    On what may be her best album, Polly Harvey offers a portrait of her homeland as a country built on bloodshed and battle, not so much a police state as a nation in thrall to military endeavour, however impotent and wasteful that has become.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Prass confirms her unique, tremulous contralto mining depths of despairing devotion on songs clearly triggered by romantic crisis.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A skilled interpreter, Simpson’s bruised baritone murmur morphs to fit the contours of each song.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    “Cold Little Heart” builds from piano and the merest shiver of strings to a Morricone-esque pitch of intensity, before Kiwanuka himself arrives five minutes in. It’s a big, powerful statement of intent that the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Save for three traditional songs, Strange Country comprises brilliantly-wrought original material haunted by themes of uncertainty, lassitude, jealousy and spite.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Roth fits Hunter like a glove, bringing out the warmth of his brass section and framing his raw voice in perfectly judged R&B arrangements that spark and bounce.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall, it’s a collection primarily concerned with the somatic rather than cerebral sides of Richard James’s music, overdosing somewhat on staccato, bouncing synth twangs and jittery drum’n’bass beats.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Truly, the album of a lifetime.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The British producer/singer, already a low-key presence on albums by Solange, Kanye and Frank Ocean, not only employs a fresh palette of sounds--from the harp-like pluckings of “Plastic 100ºC” to the beguiling Celtic-flavoured organ of “Timmy’s Prayer”--but also applies them to matters beyond romance: notably here, the process of bereavement.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s a masterful set, stuffed with brooding, industrial-synth beats.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Once I Was an Eagle is a work that demands to be taken as a whole, another reminder of the peculiar power of the album form, despite frequent premature declarations of its redundancy.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Merritt’s refracted reminiscences frequently offer thoughtful and incisive insights into bigger issues, and with deceptive sleight of story.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s a mature mix of reflection and assertion--albeit corralled this time into just ten tracks--in which Weller’s musings on life, love and society are channelled through a diverse series of musical modes, most of them constantly seeking to seep into other styles.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Elwan (Elephants), perhaps their most powerful album since Amassakoul, confronts their situation head-on, in songs musing on the values of ancestry, unity and fellowship, driven by the infectiously hypnotic cyclical guitar grooves that wind like creepers around their poetic imagery.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It’s all delivered with welcoming warmth and humility, over impeccably buttoned-down soul-funk grooves.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    LP1
    FKA Twigs emerges the high priestess of R&B's latest corruption, and the world will kneel at the altar.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With Stone Rollin', he broadens his outlook to take in various other R&B styles, without shifting more than a few years either way.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a dark, steamy sound that comes crawling from the Louisiana swamp like a mean-tempered 'gator.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    “Wanderlust” establishes the overall thematic impulse to live culturally beyond one’s means, but in practice this can lead to the preference for smarts over suitability that spoils a track like “A Dog’s Life”. But there are moments of greatness here and there.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Inspiration Information [is] repackaged with an extra disc of pieces recorded since then, which show his abilities undiminished by age.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Popular Problems--note the drolly contradictory title--finds his agreeable baritone growl applied as usual to romantic disappointment and political venality with vivid, jolting metaphors (“I see the ghost of culture, with numbers on his wrist”) cutting to the quick.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It retains their signature blend of folk-rock songcraft and miasmic guitar-drone textures, but in a more purposive manner.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's long (nearly 100 minutes), strange, disturbing, uncomfortable, challenging. But it never fails to fascinate.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Few songwriters can juggle seriousness and whimsy as adeptly as Paul Simon on Stranger To Stranger, his best album in several years.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The result is a lush, immersive work which is sonically more homogeneous than her earlier albums.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Paul Simon's ruminations here on love, age and encroaching mortality have a valedictory flavour about them.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    An album heralding a talent as intriguingly fully-formed and distinctive, in its own way, as Marling, Mitchell and Bush.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Sleep Well Beast, like all The National’s albums, occupies troubled territory. These are songs about the fleeting impermanence of joy, compared to the lingering bruise of despair, and how hard it is to live in this unfairly weighted emotional space. It’s a struggle embodied in Matt Berninger’s enervated, murmurous baritone.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Despite restlessly exploring hitherto untrodden musical terrain, there are precious few wasted seconds in these three hours.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    They are exciting precisely because they refuse to reveal everything about themselves, and because there is an ambiguity to be found in lyrics that come across as bluntly personal. It’s a talent that was present in their first two albums, only this time, they’ve let the light in a bit.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    With Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes triumphantly deliver on the promise of their popular debut, the album that helped establish folk-rock once again as a formidable commercial force rather than just a fringe interest.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    One of the truest, wisest albums you’ll ever hear.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There's a maturity about Rumer's delivery that sets her apart from all the Duffys and Adeles.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Right from the lolloping big-beat Goth motorik of “Vessels”, there’s a confident, low-life muscularity to the album, partly recorded with Sean Lennon at his upstate New York studio.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    This fourth album is produced by south London’s Paul White, and a shared taste for Talking Heads and especially Joy Division (the LP is named after their song, more than JG Ballard’s novel) takes it way off the mainstream hip-hop map.