The Observer (UK)'s Scores

  • Music
For 1,648 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 61% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Small Town Heroes
Lowest review score: 20 Moon Landing
Score distribution:
1648 music reviews
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This reissue (effectively 2008’s Collector’s Edition plus three excellent unreleased songs) proves that Radiohead’s reputation derives from their music’s depthless humanity, not its instrumentation.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Amid the homespun (often leaden) renditions of Hank Williams, Ian & Sylvia et al is a clutch of nuggets, among them the bluesy Silent Weekend and the country moan Wild Wolf. A still mysterious, wondrous chapter in Dylanology.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    While Lamar’s extended metaphor of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly begs for greater self-knowledge and transcendence. That bit might get old quickly. The rest won’t.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Yet another dial-shifting record.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Home recordings, small group experiments and the spoken credo of I Am an Instrument make for a rich, eventful ride.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Skeleton Tree shares sonic DNA with its predecessor, 2013’s Push the Sky Away, but there is something inward-facing here, something of the solo, piano Nick Cave, or of The Boatman’s Call.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Combining the sounds and textures of jazz quartet and string quartet is a tricky business, and there are moments here when the two seem about to come unstuck.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It certainly gets close to chaos at times, but these live shows often did. From that point of view at least, it's truly authentic.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Cynics will cry foul, that Beyoncé remains an entitled superstar, raging at a paper tiger. Those cynics will be ignoring one of this year’s finest albums.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Summer is traditionally the season for unearthing treasures from the jazz archives, and this is a real prize.
    • 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    You Want It Darker could be addressed to fans pining for a return to Cohen’s bleakest songwriting; or a lover, or a higher power.
    • 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.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It’s typical Monk--angular, mercurial, introspective--played by his regular quartet of the time, plus French saxophonist Barney Wilen.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This resulting work is hefty enough to tick industry boxes, and just weird enough to intrigue; a qualified success.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lamar's major-label debut, probably the year's most significant hip-hop release, proves his talent to be as prodigious as his online output.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The rapport among the five of them, especially between Miles and Shorter, is beyond belief. The sound quality is excellent throughout.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The reversals in the lives of African Americans are front and centre; this most conscious of hip-hop crews remain exemplary bellwethers.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Carrie & Lowell is so dark and deep, those of a sensitive disposition might need to rehydrate once they remove their headphones. But light pierces the murk.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A few songs here--best of all, Shady Lady--are full of the kind of 60s harmonic whimsy associated with the Beatles, locating the album in the 20th century, but The Scarecrow remains timeless and terrifying.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Corin Tucker’s yelp remains a thing of wonder, Brownstein’s lead guitar never takes the easy option and Janet Weiss’s drums anchor all the thrilling unease.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Even when battering his piano strings with a toilet brush, Frahm creates something mesmerising.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Equal parts funky electro throwback and prog chanson monster, St Vincent's fourth album feels like the culmination of a trajectory from the margins to centre stage with a minimum of intellectual loss.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A wonderfully inventive creation.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like its predecessors, Big Fish Theory is an album that grabs you by the lapels with its urgency while slapping you round the ears with its sound design.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s safe to say that though big sis Beyoncé has run her close recently, she’s once more the most intriguing Knowles sibling.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a lean, compact summary of the joys of Newsom, still an acquired taste to some, but to others, one of the undisputed greats working in our lifetime.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Radiohead have long trafficked in existential dread and political anger, and in a wider sense of twitchy bereftness that bends to fit any number of scenarios – their very own aural shade of Yves Klein blue, maybe, just a little more bruised. This arresting ninth album is bathed in it.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Accessible but challenging, Masseduction thumbs its nose at genre while Clark’s choice of producer--Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde)--roots it firmly in pop; it is, after all, an attempt to jump Clark from cult act to mass seductress. It’s working.