The Observer (UK)'s Scores

  • Music
For 1,552 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 You Want It Darker
Lowest review score: 20 Famous First Words
Score distribution:
1552 music reviews
    • 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
    Perhaps Tempest’s greatest achievement is not to fall prey to the pressure for unnecessary revolution; her work sits more comfortably in the tradition of perfecting the groove, not changing it. That perfection might be illusion, but its pursuit can produce wonderful work, as it has right here.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Reflective and exuberant by turns, it’s an outstanding album.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Summer is traditionally the season for unearthing treasures from the jazz archives, and this is a real prize.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Small Town Heroes may mourn victims of violence but it is emphatically a record stuffed with good times.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Hip-hop is constantly being tweaked and nudged in new directions, but rarely is it reconfigured as radically, and thrillingly, as on this second album from Shabazz Palaces.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Navigator might be full of site-specific anger and yearning, but like its predecessors, it is incredibly easy on the ear. The songs just flow--slinky, sad or elegant in their own ways.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Thebe Neruda Kgositsile (as his mum knows him) has as intuitive a grasp of how to punctuate a thought process with musical trigger points as any rapper in history.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    She remains a real original.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A bravura statement from an artist still sounding fresh three decades into his career.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Here she sounds more assured, even in her darker moments, and her strong, versatile voice is as extraordinary as ever.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The playing and recording, needless to say, are immaculate.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Hard to believe it was 50 years ago. Nobody’s done it better since, and few have even tried.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    There is a form of mania at work here, but the results are propulsive and ecstatic.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Yet another dial-shifting record.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This is a carnival of imagination with an intricate balance to its sequencing and a cohesion of sound and concept to die for.
    • 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Modern Country is a beatific and expansive ambient record daubed in acoustic and electric guitars, analogue oscillations, some really scary bells and no words; its meaning can be fluid.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    There’s also great ingenuity in the shorter interludes comprising little more than random chatter over a simple melody (Can’t Stop). An album with this much flair and originality is hard to fault.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a downer, but timely and affecting, with moments of beauty.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    By and large it’s an understated affair but unmistakably the Floyd, divided into four sides (and available on double vinyl), each with a different mood from the next. It also packs a great deal into 53 minutes--not least because some of the tracks are barely more than a minute and a half long. Nothing is dragged out.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It is eminently danceable, but not braindead. Funk bubbles away down below, but the lyrics are well worth tuning into.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It gets better with every play, mixing punk with glam with fuzz guitar, recalling everything from the Rolling Stones to Jack White. It is just heavy enough, and it is also meta.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    With archaic language updated by transatlantic twang, it's a winning addition to the canon.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Hazy and mellifluous, theyesandeye possesses a Nick Drake-like attention to detail.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The urban electronica of 2014’s In Each and Every One is sidelined for a spacier, more minimalist sound.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    What’s new, though, are the traces of Talking Heads-style funk and a wistfulness prompted by parenthood’s demands. “I’m sorry if I’m ever short with you,” sings David to his wife on the closer, Stay Awake, while the touching The Morning Is Waiting possesses a depth hitherto absent from their work.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The more you listen, the more Planetarium recalls Stevens’s glitchy, Auto-Tuned The Age of Adz album. Myth and science, astrology and astronomy, the personal and the political, religion and the profane commingle.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Multi-Love is a squelchy, seductive update of UMO’s nagging groove, now with added whoa-factor.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lazaretto, named after a place of quarantine for sailors, hurtles between moods and tempos, often within the same song.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The whole thing makes you want to punch the air--or maybe even strip off.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's his strongest album since Love and Theft in 2001, and still there's no pinning him down.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall there’s an abundance of grade-A pop on offer--just keep a tissue handy.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Powerful and affecting, this is as good as anything Gahan has done in the last 25 years.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Coexist is yet another masterpiece of lush asceticism.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A collection whose understatement allows different facets of Lamar’s talent to shine.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Everything just gets better and better with Marling.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Seventy-two not out: a great record.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Ones and Sixes is an ear-pricking listen, particularly on headphones.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Throughout, Grant is still angry, still purging, but with a heightened sense of mischief, both musical and lyrical.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lux
    It is an engaging antidote to all the frantic maximalism that the future keeps springing.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This 2004 acoustic show is an entrancing showcase of their respective talents.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their third album is another impressive set.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    She dazzlingly updates the genre she has dominated for a half a century while restating her sassy, feminist persona.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    These are punchy pop songs with immediate, uncomplicated appeal.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A late 2016 highlight.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A keeper, a goodie.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    At its most compelling, Shaking the Habitual is racked with lust, anger and urgent, quaking rhythms.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s an album that revels in its creative freedom.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Hollow Meadows, written while Hawley was at home recovering from a slipped disc and a broken leg, finds the crooner at his most affecting and fragile.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A worthy homage.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It often feels more like a particularly ambitious performance art project than a collection of songs. But persevere and you'll be well rewarded.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It all makes for their most coherent album since 2004’s American Idiot.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lennox still sounds unmistakably like his peaceable bear self, despite having acquired some new carnivorous companions whose firepower, critically, he doesn’t need.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lambert is a consistently thoughtful songwriter and this is an exhilarating blast of ideas as well as heady Alpine air.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    His ninth album as Thee Oh Sees has its fair share of songs that resemble long-lost Nuggets-era gems (Withered Hand and Rogue Planet are particularly bracing). But there is light and shade amid the trademark distortion.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Harmonious one minute, turbulent the next, Club Meds is an album rich in sounds and moods.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    At times it’s reminiscent of Zach Condon’s band Beirut, but Haiku Salut never stay still for too long, nuzzling up to folk one minute and slow drum’n’bass the next.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The arrangements are sharp and witty, the singing deceptively easygoing, and the guitar playing just terrific.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The pleasure, and it’s considerable, is in the detail.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sprinter combines the raw energy of Torres’s 90s forebears with modern minimalism; the result is captivating.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The mood is austere, studded by encounters with mortality, but the accompaniments from Oysterband’s Ian Kearey are full of subtlety and surprise, with delicate guitars and blasts of squeezebox. A late-flowering triumph.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like its parent film, T2 Trainspotting’s soundtrack eschews cosy Cool Britannia nostalgia for something weirder and better.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The influence of shambly 1990s indie such as Pavement and, most obviously, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci is clear on their winningly gauche debut, but it stands in a longer line of British faux-naifs stretching back through Postcard Records and the Raincoats.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The closing Ragtime offers a happy ending of sorts, but this is too honest a record about unhappiness and grief to deliver a neat, redemptive conclusion.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Old-school Africa at its finest.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There are thrills galore for fans of the Knife and Róisín Murphy (like Murphy’s Hairless Toys, Tempo is inspired by ball culture documentary Paris Is Burning), and nagging hooks too.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    I'm Ready, on which that familiar sprechgesang delivery is somehow both metronomic and distended, is exemplary, but the whole record--dosed with menace --sounds hungry.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An enchanting, stately creation.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    By turns eerie and starkly beautiful, Replica rewards repeated listening.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Live albums often undersell their artist, but this proves an inviting, well-judged showcase.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A captivating, low-key set from a singular talent.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Banga is the 65-year-old's 11th album, one of the most satisfying of her latterday career.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Happy Day (Sister My Sister) has the languid swing of the Band, Like a Mirror Loves a Hammer feels like a classic cut of southern funk. But this is much more than an exercise in loving hommage, not least because his lyrics brim with personality and feeling.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The rediscovered intimacy suits him--there’s a bracing directness to these songs that’s been lacking over the last decade.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Fresh Blood refines the Spacebomb MO, darkening themes and expanding their range.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This Canadian trio dispense a slow, seductive blend of blues and country that skulks in the shadows, whispering sweet nothings before baring its fangs.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Landlord is fantastic, crafted, big-stage trap with the lissom, conversational feel of a mixtape.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [A] short but highly intriguing record from Norwegian pop experimentalist Jenny Hval.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Almond is at his best on the compelling torch songs that have long been his stock in trade. Winter Sun reflects on dwindling romance; The Pain of Never is swooningly melancholic. More, please.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Those allergic to smooth pop-rock may find Days Are Gone hard going. Paradoxically, given this is an album of clever mash-ups, Haim's one straight-up R&B tune might actually be their best.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There is only one misstep--the clumsy, Whitesnake-worthy lyrics to Dirty to the Bone are rooted a little too firmly in the 70s--but otherwise this is an excellent return.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s not always the easiest of listens, but the boldness of her vision is compelling, especially on Discovery and the title track, where beauty and raw power interact.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is not a dark record, but one whose interstitial found sounds and international guest list celebrate Crossan’s adopted London.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Tugging profoundly on bittersweet 60s soul and Motown, Heaven is a fine album.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s the warmth and personality of her voice that rings particularly true.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Though these tracks are largely elegiac in tone, they still seek out the consolations of the dancefloor, delivering pulsing beats and warm surges of melody.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Business as usual, in this case, is no bad thing.