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Average User Score: 8.2Jul 17, 2012Some nice metal moments and trademark neo-medieval ballads scattered throughout, but runs out of steam somewhere near the end of the firstSome nice metal moments and trademark neo-medieval ballads scattered throughout, but runs out of steam somewhere near the end of the first disk. I don't care that Baroness has moved even further from their.metal roots, in fact, it's their innovative transgression of metal boundaries that makes them so great. But too much of this album sounds like uninspired 90s alternative. It's better than a lot of crap that will be released this year, but by Baroness standards, I'd say it's a disappointment.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Jun 20, 2012What can I say? One of the best, if not the best albums I've listened to this year. Complex, nerdy and catchy all at once! If Fleet Foxes wereWhat can I say? One of the best, if not the best albums I've listened to this year. Complex, nerdy and catchy all at once! If Fleet Foxes were into electronic music and enjoyed geometric metaphors this is the album they'd make!… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3Apr 20, 2012Pretty typical post-Floating in Space Spiritualized. Nothing new lyrically here - plenty of brooding about religion, death, etc., though IPretty typical post-Floating in Space Spiritualized. Nothing new lyrically here - plenty of brooding about religion, death, etc., though I would say it's more upbeat Pierce's past productions. There are some really great moments here: Hey Jame reminds me of Ghost is Born era Wilco with its breezy guitar shading into harsh distortion and Mary is a slinky, fuzzy blues piece that represents Spiritualized at its best. But the album as a whole just isn't memorable for me. Certainly this reveals a bias of mine, but when I more or less already know how an album is going to sound before it's released, I have a hard time being that enthusiastic in review.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Feb 18, 2012Two things have frequently been written about this album: it's more accessible than previous work and it probably represents a transition forTwo things have frequently been written about this album: it's more accessible than previous work and it probably represents a transition for this band. On the first, yes, it is most certainly more accessible, but I cannot bring myself to say this is a bad thing. Shearwater combines their ability for ethereal chords and vocals with the, yes, animal pulse of rock and electronic beats. It's a beautiful fusion that seems perfect for the album's title. And one can only hope this represents a transition. I absolutely loved their recently competed trilogy, but most high quality bands fail when they try to extend a single idea or sound too long. And for a possibly transitional album, "Animal Joy" is surprisingly cohesive and complete.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Oct 15, 2010As a disclaimer, I should state I have always been reserved in my response to Stevens' work. I appreciate the mastery he displays over hisAs a disclaimer, I should state I have always been reserved in my response to Stevens' work. I appreciate the mastery he displays over his craft, but for some reason I have consistently failed to connect with his work. A subjective judgment, I know, but such is the nature of music. So, I didn't have high expectations for this album, however, I must say this may be the album that *finally* offers me a window into the world of Sufjan. As much as it is a departure from his previous work (darker, less concept oriented, electronic influences), it retains a distinct Sufjan feel with its idiosyncratic musical structures and instrumentation that, at times, make you work hard as a listener. It is ultimately, however, the incorporation of electronic instrumentation (though at times it sounds a little too much like Postal Service for my taste) and a more pessimistic outlook (though plenty of hope is still here) that draw me in. This Sufjan seems more self-aware than I have ever seen him, and he ridicules his own fame while still offering bittersweet hope to his listeners.
"I Walked" may be the best lost love song in recent memory. The understated pulse of electronics overlaid by Sufjan's beautiful falsetto drives home the sense of ache the lyrics communicate. And who has the right to write lyrics like "Lover, will you look from me now / I'm already dead / but I've come to explain / why I left such a mess on the floor / For when you went away / I went crazy. I was wild with the breast of a dog / I ran through the night / with the knife in my chest / with the lust of your loveless life?"
Sufjan Stevens clearly has a lot more to offer. Despite my aforementioned skepticism over his music, this album has instantly entered discussion for 10 best of the year!… Expand