Big Red Machine Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critic Reviews What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 19 Ratings

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  • Summary: The debut full-length release for the collaboration between Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and The National co-founder Aaron Dessner features contributions from Phoebe Bridgers, Bryce Dessner, Lisa Hannigan, Rob Moose, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, and This Is the Kit’s Kate Stables.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Aug 31, 2018
    Neither The National nor Bon Iver does “happy music,” and the themes running through Big Red Machine are rarely uplifting, but there’s unmistakable joy in the music here, a deep care and love for what they were creating and how they got to create it--among friends who also happen to be overflowing with talent. Fans of either band are likely to share in that joy.
  2. Aug 31, 2018
    He and Dessner have alighted on a magnificently big-hearted and original seam of songcraft.
  3. Uncut
    Sep 18, 2018
    These 10 songs are intimate, graceful and surprisingly hooky. [Oct 2018, p.24]
  4. Aug 31, 2018
    More a headphones-type album than a radio-friendly one, what emerges are still songs before compositions or productions, though they may appeal to the more explorative indie rockers.
  5. Sep 4, 2018
    It’s hard to hold onto anything concrete, musically or lyrically, here. The album’s 10 songs are much more thematic, sensory, and impressionistic. ... [Vernon's] voice--one of the most expressive baritones in indie music--is the showpiece throughout.
  6. Sep 7, 2018
    Big Red Machine is an exercise in expectation and follow-through, and in how throwing a bunch of good ideas at a song doesn’t make a good song, nor a bunch of great tracks onto vinyl wax a great album.
  7. Aug 31, 2018
    There are moments when it feels admirable in its scope and ambition, but ultimately, the pure intentions get lost in the noise.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Apr 3, 2020
    Incredible album from Justin Vernon and Aaron Desner. How it hasn’t gotten higher marks is beyond my understanding.
  2. Mar 2, 2022
    This album is a perfect example of what can happen when songwriting and vocal powerhouses get together and lightening strikes.
  3. Jun 3, 2020
    As a huge fan of both artists' work, I was always going to own this album. "Big Red Machine" is not an immediate record but after half a dozenAs a huge fan of both artists' work, I was always going to own this album. "Big Red Machine" is not an immediate record but after half a dozen listens it starts to stick in the memory. There is no career defining song here from Dessner or Vernon but there is a sense of freedom to the material that you would only get from a side project shorn of the normal pressure of expectation that comes with new releases from Bon Iver and The National. It is an understated listen with much to discover underneath the hood. Had this been an EP, it would probably be more impressive but I would have been screaming out for an album. As it is, "Big Red Machine" have brought us an album that is interesting rather than essential listening but certainly a record that I can return to. Expand