The Observer (UK)'s Scores

  • Music
For 804 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 8.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Small Town Heroes
Lowest review score: 20 Moon Landing
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 804
804 music reviews
    • 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.
    • 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
    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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    It's a downer, but timely and affecting, with moments of beauty.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Crown and Treaty is at times wonderful, particularly on "Blue Sky Falls", "Joyful Reunion" and "Brugada".
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This, finally, is the stuff people have been waiting a young lifetime to hear. It more than passes muster.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The somewhat mainstream arrangements are meticulously crafted and played, but it's Cash's emotional, engaged vocals that carry the record.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    At times, the whirl of ideas threatens to spin out of control, but more often, as on CIRCLONT6A, they cohere thrillingly. A welcome return.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Daft Punk have shone a laser beam into dark corners of the 70s and 80s and made them sing again, with timbres more human than ever before.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    She remains a real original.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    LP1
    Even if the sex-angst of millennials is not your thing, FKA Twigs can still satisfy, and that is why LP1 (the title oozes confidence) is so special.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Those happy to go with Van Etten will be rewarded by swooping pop noir, groaning organs and a sax solo, plus considerable hard-won wisdom.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    From the Sea comprises new versions of old songs, most of which sound just as powerful without Woolcock's arresting images.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A brilliant, highly original album.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    These songs work a gentle charm, reflecting on life and mortality with an unhurried grace.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Everything just gets better and better with Marling.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    At its centre is Lambert's ebullient personality and a classic Texan voice that can deliver ballads or arena rock with equal ease.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It's more likely, though, that Shields is a grower.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Dig deep and there's powerful drama and enigmatic subtlety in equal measure as the Cumbrian four-piece once again embrace understated electronica and invite favourable comparisons with Talk Talk.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Mostly, Popular Problems presents Cohen’s wry, wracked recitations against almost ascetic backings overseen by Patrick Leonard, famed for his work with Madonna.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Lost maintains a kind of motorik languor throughout, turning 80s arena rock into something much more intriguing.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    At its most compelling, Shaking the Habitual is racked with lust, anger and urgent, quaking rhythms.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    This album is rather better when it is winking at you, rather than seeking to cryogenically preserve emotion.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Kozelek, it seems, has nothing left to hide, or lose: the effect is utterly riveting.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Throughout, these 11 songs give the impression of being sweet nothings. They are, instead, substantial and salty with tears.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The 71-year-old Texan returns with a striking set of songs that typify his drollery and open-heartedness, all delivered with easy-rolling grace.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A triumph.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It is not wild hyperbole to say that he might be the finest master of his craft alive today.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It might lack some of the energy of their youth (best captured on the How the West Was Won live set, recorded in 1972 and released in 2003), but this is still a mightily impressive monument.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Ode
    Absorbing.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Tomorrow's Harvest is another intriguing Rorschach blot of a record from a splendidly arcane band.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    In this super-charged debut, which harks back to early-90s hip-hop, she delights in speeding it up.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The best surprise of all, in an autumn in which Beyoncé's closest competitors--Gaga, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus--made underperforming bids for the throne, is how thoroughly assured, immersive and substantial this album is.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Across 32 tracks it tries to capture the experience of an era from all sides.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The fine line between euphoria and melancholy is negotiated brilliantly on tracks such as Can’t Do Without You.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The guests on Trouble Will Find Me are equally impressive (Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten), but the National, no question, are the real stars of the show.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Listen in and the lyrics soundtrack a mid-youth crisis ("I've been starting over for a long time," Cronin croons as the album opens), but not so as to dent the overall impression of an ozone high.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    This is fine internationalist guitar music.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There is a lot of heartbreak on Burn Your Fire For No Witness, as well as a lot of pleasing anachronism; a lot of hard-won resignation and what you might call stern vulnerability, a quality that Olsen shares with Joni Mitchell without sounding at all like Mitchell.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It's not cutting edge, but it does mean business.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their erudition, musical and lyrical, remains a pleasure, but what convinces on Modern Vampires are their beating hearts.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Tugging profoundly on bittersweet 60s soul and Motown, Heaven is a fine album.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    In revving so hard, though, the Black Keys have perhaps left behind in the dust the subtleties that made Brothers such an intriguing ride.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The arrangements on Dream River are almost as eloquent as his lyrics.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The resulting album is rich in imagination, and--at times, most notably on Bull and Brando--surprisingly accessible
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The playing and recording, needless to say, are immaculate.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    She chooses a set of the finest popular ballads ever written and makes them new again.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Seventy-two not out: a great record.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    More immediate songs such as In the Same Room are ineffably breezy, while other tracks illustrate her handle on ancient Greece (This is Ekstasis) and the uncommon control she has over textures and motifs, atmospheres and vocoders.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There are beautiful moments.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's his strongest album since Love and Theft in 2001, and still there's no pinning him down.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Yet another reliably great outing, full of intriguing plot developments, yet in faithful keeping with White's previous output.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A fierce polemic that impresses and frustrates in equal measure.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The balance between pop and experimentalism is very fine but Young Fathers strike it with exuberant ease.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    At 12 tracks, though, Fear Fun could do with a good trim.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There are tunes aplenty, making this second Protomartyr album a surprisingly pleasurable dose of swaggering anomie.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a minor country-soul gem, full of lovely and deeply atmospheric instrumentation gilding Ford’s alluring vocals.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    They are far more interesting when they let in some light, most notably on The Hum’s standout, the simmering Retreat.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Garbus's voice is jostled too much amid the hectic production to allow its personality to shine through and, with some notable exceptions (the call and response of Real Thing), hooks are hurried on before properly taking root.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It may not rank among Wilco's boldest works. It could have done with more wig-outs. But it captures the art of the almost with both hands.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Transgender Dysphoria Blues lives up to its title with candour and tunes.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The results are frequently exquisite.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A decade on he treads a familiar path of homespun blues and rock'n'roll, happily unencumbered by musical fashion and with deeply satisfying results.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    No chance of paunchy homage here; lyrics cluttered with Munch, war and the Chartists and the tightly coiled energy of its best moments, such as Misguided Missile and instrumental closer Mayakovsky, suggest they are fronting up to middle age rather well.
    • The Observer (UK)
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    She's irrepressible and the record sparkles with personality and elan, sealing her as a pop star worthy of the illustrious company she keeps.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    With this album, you'll be scrabbling for a lyric sheet because Homme seems so uncharacteristically unmoored.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Though Pallett is guilty of trying too hard to impress ("Even as a child you felt the terror of the infinite," begins Song for Five & Six), the Canadian's melodies seldom disappoint.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Hopkins's beats shuffle and trip but there is a great clarity of focus throughout, and a delicate beauty.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The mood only really dips on Chamber of Reflection, when jangly guitars are replaced by a discombobulating synth and his downer sentiments are matched by the music.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Another challenging but ultimately rewarding listen.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Pity there's still too much syrup to wade through on other tracks.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Fade returns to familiar territory so intuitively that it feels less like a return to form than a homecoming.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    His trademark reticence (both this and 2010's Earl begin with voices needling him to speak) means he gives away too many verses: the best tracks are him and him alone.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It's an uneven departure.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    He sounds like Bob Dylan or Tom Petty when he sings – laconic, nasal, matter of fact – but his songs thrum and drone and hum like, well, loose ambient rock.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Only Rowland's female foil, Madeleine Hyland, overacts.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The London producer with the voice like a bruise remains perennially inconsolable here.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Silence Yourself reveals Savages to be a cross between the Horrors (fondness for black, allegiance to art-rock, time spent in Dalston) and Sleater-Kinney (devotion to Wire, lack of male members, stentorian vibrato) with a soupcon of the Knife (fondness for manifestos, tribal beats, forbidding glee).
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Cut the World reprises 10 of his old songs, adds one new one (the title track) and Future Feminism, which is the kind of thing that will either get you punching the air as you did at Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony, or crossing your legs and muttering about distrusting gender absolutes.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    His most assured record to date, this is also the Philadelphia rocker's most purely pleasurable.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There's a good deal to enjoy here.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Her fourthcorrect, country-tinged album is no mere musical mope, but features writerly vignettes and restrained introspection.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    A dense, angry, complex rock album.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Banga is the 65-year-old's 11th album, one of the most satisfying of her latterday career.