The Observer (UK)'s Scores

  • Music
For 1,630 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 Gargoyle
Lowest review score: 20 Thank You
Score distribution:
1630 music reviews
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The raunchy come-hithers you assume have been dropped in late in the day can be as boring and samey as piano ballads. But here, Cabello acquits herself well as an R&B vixen.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As the standout Yesterday attests, Full Closure and No Details is quietly impressive--a slow-burning fusion of defiance and heartache.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The puerile misogyny is unfortunate (Drop a Bag ends by shaming women who post suggestive photos on social media), but this is largely a straightforward collection of bold, egotistical hip-hop tunes.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    There are just too many pop stars here (Pink, Beyoncé, Kehlani) wailing anodyne hooks over glutinous beats. Perhaps the biggest problem with Revival – as with many latterday Eminem records – is the struggle of an intelligent fortysomething artist to evolve while somehow remaining true to the demands of his sniggery core audience of alienated males.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Beautifully packaged, it’s a world fan’s dream present.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is an album full of what another killer track – Secret Life of Tigers – calls “serotonin overload!” – a flow-state that not even a perky reggae track featuring Ed Sheeran (Lifting You) can dim.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A lush, teak-panelled Nashville soul record.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Short of a few dubby echoes, reggae is the one genre Etienne Jaumet, “Cosmic” Neman and Dr Schonberg don’t audibly mine here. No track is shorter than six minutes; some jazz sax and handclaps set Looose apart from its surroundings, which are never anything other than engrossing.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The results are easy enough to digest, even if the process isn’t, with just enough repetition and structure to prevent attention drift.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    For the most part, though, these spare reworkings are dramatic and wonderfully arranged. The highlight is Abbey Lincoln’s The World Is Falling Down, a bewitching snapshot of society in meltdown. For the most part, though, these spare reworkings are dramatic and wonderfully arranged. The highlight is Abbey Lincoln’s The World Is Falling Down, a bewitching snapshot of society in meltdown.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The Way Is Read gets better the further in you get, the thrilling closing title track highlighting the talents of both parties.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    QTY
    An intriguing duo on their debut album who expand to a foursome live.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An album that improves with each listen, with an accomplished, ornate warmth.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Many fans will enjoy this album’s radio-friendliness, and its warm hugs. But these Songs of Experience lack William Blake’s moral fervour or rage.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It shouldn’t work, but pleasingly, most of it does, thanks to the conviction of Young’s delivery.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Pineapple Skies is the most obvious soaraway, feelgood hit, but very little on War & Leisure falls flat.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    His breathy singing is equal parts Jens Lekman, Saint Etienne and Vic Reeves’s club singer, which undermines the teenage existentialism of On the Main Drag but suits the wide-eyed simplicity of Country Boy. Nevertheless, Krgovich’s meticulous, subtle production is frequently brilliant.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Solid if formulaic, Blue Lips peaks with unfaltering vocals and the kind of humid, polished production that would make Jack Antonoff jealous.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    At its best this is earthy, experimental pop, but the unusual sounds that pique the interest come too inconsistently.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Nothing here feels like filler, however; not least two versions of Drawn to the Blood, one electronic and one fingerpicked.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Its blend of historical drama, ballad ghosts and philosophical memoir is compelling, made as intimate as if it were in your own skull by Polwart’s warm, wise, attention-commanding voice.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    As the tempo drops, though, so does the quality: It’s a Beautiful World remains lumpenly uninspired, despite producer David Holmes’s best attempts at window dressing, while Be Careful What You Wish For slumps when it tries to slink.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Traditionalists might still wonder where all the nice steady beats have gone, why so little music here is anchored. The dominant message, though, is of limitlessness, of hope and, on Future Forever, of “a matriarchal dome” with “musical scaffolding”.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    For the most part these more outward-looking conceits are housed in familiar musical settings--the Bond theme-lite Guilty feels like a song she’s released five times already--but there’s fun to be had in Til I’m Done’s plastic disco shimmy and the skipping, featherlight pop of Kings and Queens.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Too often, though, style triumphs over substance, and too many songs flail in their own restrained elegance. Worse, the hidden track featuring a child mangling the alphabet is painfully self-indulgent rather than cute.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Musically it’s a fascinating, low-key meld of 70s funk, gospel choruses and wonky rock guitar. Build a Bridge swells with Prince-like melody, No Time for Crying is stark and serious, and Peaceful Dream a gospel singalong. Inspirational work.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A record replete with drama and succour that wrestles with the messy business of being alive.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    As ever, the messages are mixed, on many levels.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted is a finely judged attack on Brexiters’ lies and their hidden agenda, while the mournful piano ballad Full English Brexit finds Bragg looking through the eyes of an elderly Leave voter.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Her second album tries to don the weeds of gothic Americana for a darker tone than the pale folk of her eponymous debut, yet remains washed out, like an overexposed negative: oddly beautiful but wilfully wan.