The Observer (UK)'s Scores

  • Music
For 713 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 32% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 65% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 8.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Monomania
Lowest review score: 20 Moon Landing
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 11 out of 713
713 music reviews
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The modulations and switches in pace remain as bold as ever, and Clark has a knack for memorable melody and a winning voice with shades of Kate Bush and Leslie Feist.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The humour is often savage--a sprightly accordion heralds a story of damaged troops--but Cooder's aim is true. He's become a Woody Guthrie for our times.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    There's plenty to like about Neil Young and Crazy Horse's first work together for nine years, a collection of cover versions of essential American tunes.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The playing and recording, needless to say, are immaculate.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Over seven elegant tracks, White and his musicians achieve the kinds of loveliness that Spiritualized, Lambchop, Cat Power and the Beta Band have tilted at, at different times in the past, and quite often missed.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    She remains a real original.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    There is a form of mania at work here, but the results are propulsive and ecstatic.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Small Town Heroes may mourn victims of violence but it is emphatically a record stuffed with good times.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Nashville-based duo Joy Williams and John Paul White have crafted a bewitching debut album of sparse, spectral Americana.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    4
    Only the syrupy "I Was Here" disappoints, its corny bluster at odds with the laid-back feel of her most accomplished album yet.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's better than West's last, impressive album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With fantastically varied production, Watch the Throne marches hungrily forward, belying its genesis in a series of swanky hotel rooms.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    On paper, its influences--surf punk, Prince, oriental pop, minimalist dance--smack of hipster posturing, but on record, they blend beautifully.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Throughout, Fool's Gold lollop along confidently, Top's husky croon offset by Lewis Pesacov's guitar lines, like dewy spider's web.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The title may be misleading: if there are hearts on this stirring debut they're the blood-racing, pulse-quickening kind rather than any idly-doodled kitsch.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their second album once again combines the muscularity of 80s post-hardcore types Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr with the dynamics of breezily sunny three-minute pop songs, this time to even better effect.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their fifth album sidesteps the rolling, electric style that's made them world-conquerors for a return to acoustic campfire camaraderie.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Wild Flag sees Brownstein reunited with S-K drummer Janet Weiss, plus Helium's Mary Timony and keyboard player Rebecca Cole in an effervescent celebration of the fun of being in a band.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Press-release comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin are misplaced-Lenny Kravitz, maybe--but this is still a good album.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    His first album as Neon Indian was sun-struck and woozy; the mood, on the follow-up, has grown a little darker and on "Future Sick" the wooziness veers into nausea. Which makes the sunnier moments, when they come, all the more heightened.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Its louder moments--and there are plenty--are even better and feature stomping incantations that demand air and company.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Bondy gives his songs plenty of room to breathe, the results being quite often spellbinding.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their third album has less of a home-produced feel though offers the same mainstream mash-up of indie-pop and dance, the beats and synth lines slightly more souped up.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Coinciding with his turning 85, Bennett's latest sounds like a fantasy birthday party in full swing, one where an outrageously starry array of guests share the mic with a host as twinkling as ever.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Not all of 4everevolution shines--tracks such as "First Growth" feel like Manuva by numbers--but there are some gems here, and it's good to hear the veteran south London rapper adapting his gruff tones to such a wide variety of material.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Those who like their Will Oldham albums straight-up, sparse and intimate will find Wolfroy--the Kentucky singer-songwriter's 16th-odd album--right up their street.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Biophilia is no clever-clever cacophony. Like the natural world from which it draws inspiration, the album has structure and convention. And there is always the anchor of Björk's voice and her words, which conjoin emotional forces and elemental processes.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Bad As Me's 13 tracks fairly rip along, alerting a new generation that there are few as fine as Waits.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Four years on and they have made a witty, hooky dance record in thrall to the rock operatics of Led Zeppelin and Queen.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [The album] is an intriguing work: dark, seductive and as hard to pin down as its creator.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Welcome to Condale doesn't fetishise the past, its love-gone-wrong lyrics and snatches of chillwave lending Summer Camp a sound that is theirs alone.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    By turns eerie and starkly beautiful, Replica rewards repeated listening.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If… is a joy, its 10 mostly instrumental tracks proving both intimate and powerful.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a downer, but timely and affecting, with moments of beauty.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's bonkers and frequently brilliant.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It is not wild hyperbole to say that he might be the finest master of his craft alive today.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Unashamedly uplifting songs about working hard and loving music.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    75 tracks from as many artists, ranging from the trad (Pete Townshend's "Corrina, Corrina", the upbeat old-time of Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Political World") to the rad (Sussan Deyhim's "All I Really Want to Do", Ke$ha's pleasingly pared "Don't Think Twice…").
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This debut LP is lit up by an imagination as huge and outlandish as her onstage wigs and it makes for songs that bloom.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    He appears to have been hoarding his best material for his first solo album since 2004's Bubblegum, because Blues Funeral has quality to spare.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The producerly hand of the National's Aaron Dessner and cameos by the likes of Beirut's Zach Condon only add to the conclusion that Tramp is one of the must-hears of early 2012.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A contender for their boldest LP yet.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    His British debut is a gem: a warm, sun-dappled record with an appealing snag of heartache.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A brilliant, highly original album.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Debelle is not always easy company and can veer into self-absorption, but the album is refreshingly outspoken and, with help from producer Kwes, musically daring.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    At its worst this understated quality [astral rambling] produces the drear muzak of "Gar", but at its best ... it's sublime.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There are fewer surprises but no shortage of quality.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There are occasional flat spots (Paolo Nutini, the Secret Sisters) but ease, exuberance and quality easily outweigh any faux moments.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A record to get lost in.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Happily SVllB still sound fantastic.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The only problem with this little gem of an album is that there isn't more of it.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Still the most electrifying acoustic act around.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their eighth outing reaffirms their wordless eloquence.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Bird conducts his experiments with the lightest of touches: his ingenuity matched by a gift for simple, lilting melodies.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sometimes, as on "Let Them Talk", the blend is finger-snappingly fluent, but more often it is deliberately disjointed to match Mathambo's fragmented tales of township life.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This 2004 acoustic show is an entrancing showcase of their respective talents.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Together [Radio Music Society and Chamber Music Society] they reveal the impressive range of this multi-talented young bassist/composer/singer.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sonically capricious in the best possible way, it takes in rasping electro, hardcore riffing, rock-opera camp and continues to throw up new surprises with every listen.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    What emerges from their empathy is a thoroughly great record that adds punch and groove to Rebennack's humid party music.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [A] startling debut... As his tremulous whisper of a voice travels over deftly plucked, quietly rippling guitar lines, it feels like trespassing on a very small space, filled with enormous private sorrows.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    They not only shake but also rattle, roll and do everything else to ears and body that the most rumbustious soul-rock and roots music can.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    You'd have to be seriously unmusical not to be charmed by the elegance of it.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Yet another reliably great outing, full of intriguing plot developments, yet in faithful keeping with White's previous output.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Unhitched from a major label, he has opted for a starker, more contemplative approach and sounds the better for it.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Prolific songwriter Ty Segall and Californian rock/art collective White Fence are far from shy about their influences on this bold, brief (30-minute) outing.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This fifth album is arguably his most measured, setting his supple vocals to acoustic, subtly innovative arrangements.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The results are almost always convincing.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The rest of the album is almost as great [as "Veils"], but concerns itself with heartbreak of the romantic kind.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Crown and Treaty is at times wonderful, particularly on "Blue Sky Falls", "Joyful Reunion" and "Brugada".
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A hoot.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Tugging profoundly on bittersweet 60s soul and Motown, Heaven is a fine album.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    When, as on Majesties Ranch and Iron Deer Dream, they use handclaps and harmonies to wonderful effect, imbuing psychedelia with a youthful glow.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The mood of gathering gloom occasionally drifts rather close to torpor, but Feel It Coming Near and the sublime Awake usher the darkness in beautifully.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a daring mix of tradition and modernity, but the group's skill and organic approach carry it off.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Banga is the 65-year-old's 11th album, one of the most satisfying of her latterday career.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Flutes is a terrifically chilly robotic workout, These Chains blends doe-eyed R&B and disco to fine effect. Night And Day's so-so electrofunk is the only casualty to this record's sense of adventure.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall this is a deeply satisfying meeting of many minds.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Expertly tweaked synths sit on a bed of complex beats mixing house and techno with subtle nods to sundry other genres.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Each of these nine pieces has its own character – playful, mysterious, rhythmically compelling or folkishly tuneful – each one exquisitely performed and uniquely absorbing.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The beats here are deft as well as driving. Surprisingly, EDM stylings such as the juddering bassline of As Long As You Love Me work well with his plaintive and still unmistakeably teenage voice.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    On the band's gorgeous sixth album, there's a new directness to the songs.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    His terrific second album is influenced by dawn motorbike rides rather than nocturnal regrets.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Refreshingly unpredictable, this is a blueprint for what remix albums should aspire to.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Maturity suits the ever-articulate rapper, and his recollections of his early years as a Queensbridge hustler... have added resonance here.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is a record with reference points of the highest quality (Björk, Fever Ray, Burial), which, at best, bears comparison with them all.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Only at two or three points in the album does it feel like Ocean is actively courting heavy radio play.... The rest of the album, however, feels too offbeat and diffuse to trouble the top end of the charts. Is this a bad thing? Not at all.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A fierce polemic that impresses and frustrates in equal measure.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A musical reaction to strife and scandal that comes from a quarter where pretension often trumps fun, America is that unlikeliest of things: a feelgood summer album.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's as an impressionist composer that the latterday Ahmad Jamal really excels. Two of these pieces in particular, "Autumn Rain" and "Morning Mist", are quite exquisite.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [On Election Special] the first world is in dire straits and it's all the fault of Republicans – architects of Guantánamo and unfeeling people who tie their dogs to the roofs of their cars then drive off (Mutt Romney's Blues).
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The arrangements are sharp and witty, the singing deceptively easygoing, and the guitar playing just terrific.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    At its best this is the sound of a band rediscovering what made them so special in the first place.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their fifth album is rich and intoxicating: billows of brass, sinuous guitar hooks and squiggles of hammond organ bubble up pungently from the stew.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sun
    Aided by woozy, expansive production many of these songs shimmer with warmth and light. There's a brittleness here too though.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An 11-track galumph through feelgood rockularisms.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's his strongest album since Love and Theft in 2001, and still there's no pinning him down.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This second outing presents a richer, more percussive sound, albeit one still shot through with the zinging pyrotechnics of tin-can guitar.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Coexist is yet another masterpiece of lush asceticism.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Hield's command of her material is unerring and the outcome compelling.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [Their collaboration] makes for a consistently delicious contrast between the unruliness of sound... and the cool affectlessness of both their voices as every song bursts with the interplay of these two eccentrics' ideas.