Chicago Tribune's Scores

For 566 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 51% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 46% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 73
Highest review score: 100 The Agent Intellect
Lowest review score: 25 Graffiti
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 566
566 music reviews
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    DBT sounds like it’s just getting re-started on its 12th studio album, “The Unraveling” (ATO). ... Even better are the songs that describe the emotional toll behind those headline-making, stomach-churning issues.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Torres takes over production and plays most of the instruments on her fourth studio album, “Silver Tongue” (Merge). It was a good call, her strengths as a songwriter, singer and musician fully realized.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Some of the shaggy verve of old has been sacrificed, and the latter half of the album lacks the emotional specificity of Alex’s best work. A few quieter acoustic tracks, augmented by understated strings and horns, echo the singer’s work in his alter-ego project, Quiet Slang, and provide some welcome textural variety.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Overall, though, the songs don’t measure up. ... And it’s clear why. The master songwriter simply ran out of time.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    “Our Pathetic Age” addresses big topics — social media alienation, nefarious government oppression, the suppression of individuality — but refuses to knuckle under. By breaking sounds loose from the strictures of time and genre, DJ Shadow implies that the music still runs free.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Songs melt into one another without losing their identities. Kiwanuka’s narrators drift through a world torn by violence and racism and find purpose. His voice remains plaintive, understated, deeply textured, but there’s a resolve that wasn’t as evident on his earlier work.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The gospel-singer moments (the stirring intro to “God Is”) and the verses by the Clips’ Pusha T and No Malice on “Use This Gospel” provide most of the musical sparks, with West allowing message to trump musicality. ... Otherwise, this sounds like a walk-through to West’s next destination, a tentative step that feels neither accomplished nor particularly memorable.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Though Battles might be viewed from a distance as a potentially daunting listen, “Juice B Crypts” provides multi-faceted kicks, whether on the dance floor, through the headphones, or riding, screaming with joy, on a rollercoaster.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    It distills what has made Trupa Trupa a must-see in past years at music conferences such as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    The album plays like an extended mood piece that bends and drifts, with a shortage of the crushing hard-rock crescendos and riffs that defined the band’s work on “Lateralus” (2001) and before.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The voices and the hooks can’t easily be denied, and Shires injects some playful sassiness on “Don’t Call Me.” But the potential for what could’ve been a harder-hitting roadhouse-style album largely goes unrealized.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Things inevitably drift, but beneath the surface in the best songs there is a toughness and a newfound resilience.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    At a distance, the album can feel like an ambient mood piece with some pretty moments rising from the mist. Listen closely, however, and something changes. The album becomes a meditation on pain and wonder, an apparent duality that Cave’s narrator turns into an acceptance of what it means to live.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Though it encompasses traditional elements, “Ode to Joy” falls on the quirkier side of the Wilco spectrum, an album that prizes subtlety and intimacy over immediacy and dynamics.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Distortion-saturated guitars, synthesizers squealing like tea kettles and tribal drums give country tradition a swift kick in the back side. This carnage doesn’t belong to a genre, it’s more like a feeling: Side 2 of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Rust Never Sleeps,” ZZ Top demos after three cases of Tequila in a Texas roadhouse, a hurricane.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Her solo debut, “Jaime” (ATO), breaks ground sonically and lyrically. It’s both more personal and daring, steeped in ‘60s and ‘70s soul-funk-R&B but with a rules-are-meant-to-be-broken twist.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    A breezy immediacy wafts through “Dance Through It,” in which a woman steps through a minefield of turmoil, care-free as long as the music’s on. But the album’s vibe is best captured by “Under a Smile,” a slow-burn beauty in which a drifter finds solace in a world that seems to be unraveling. The gentle refrain builds, and one voice melts into a choir.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Even though the 33-minute album comes off as slight, Pop still manages to reaffirm his gift for integrating seemingly opposed impulses.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    The 10 tracks emerge from a web of interlocking melodies, with horns, strings, keyboards and guitar weaving counterpoint lines. It never feels overstuffed, because the rhythm section focuses on subtle swing rather than power.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    His subject matter is explicit and personal, the album a song cycle brimming with ghosts – four siblings who died tragically young. ... He narrators in these songs are more like a collection of lost voices, including that of Saadiq himself.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    An album where the filler and the nuggets struggle for supremacy. ... Yet even those indifferent to Swift’s charms since she emerged as a teen-pop hitmaker in 2006 would probably acknowledge that she’s got a knack for writing hooks, and there are plenty of them on “Lover.”
    • 80 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Much of “The Center Won’t Hold” doesn’t sound like the old Sleater-Kinney, which is precisely the point. Brownstein and Tucker prefer to go charging into the future, but at the expense of some of the very attributes that made them so compelling in the first place.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    These songs conflate his newfound responsibilities as a husband and father with memories of childhood innocence, a mix that humanizes the rapper even as his career transcends music.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    There are a couple of less-inspired contributions, notably the glossy country-pop “You’re My Love,” which Kenny Rogers recorded in 1986. But the overriding impression is wonderment: Prince was on such a roll that he was giving away tracks that could’ve provided the backbone for at least another terrific album of his own during this era, music that ranges from the funk mischief of “Jungle Love” to the falsetto tenderness of “Baby, You’re a Trip.”
    • 81 Metascore
    • 75 Critic Score
    Help Us Stranger brims with unapologetic rock songs that mine ‘60s and ‘70s signifiers without getting stuck there. Yet it’s the ballads that give the album its unexpected emotional heft.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The large-scale orchestrations rarely complement the mood. Instead, they barge in, a river of syrup that drowns the sense of betrayal in “Stones,” gushes through “The Wayfarer” and inspires some of Springsteen’s most egregious Gene Pitney-style over-emoting in “Sundown” and the disastrously overdone “There Goes My Miracle.”
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Their largely instrumental compositions, for all their technical prowess, have always been visceral, less about conjuring air-guitar solos than melodies you can hum a week after hearing them. They double down on that approach on “Nighttime Stories.”
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The arrangements only rarely bring out the drama in these interactions. The intimacy becomes wearying, with spoken-word interludes, interstitial pieces and hushed vocals stretching the 16 songs to 64 minutes, an experiment in search of a direction. The most radical album of the National’s career is also its most disappointing.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Just like these artists [poet Nikki Giovanni, singer Eartha Kitt, blues legend Muddy Waters, funk rebel Betty Davis, jazz greats Miles Davis and Sun Ra, literary icons James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Octavia Butler, poet Sonia Sanchez, iconoclastic painter Basquiat] resisted being boxed in, so does Woods’ music. These are songs that elude genre--a blend of trip-hop, rap/spoken word, R&B, gospel.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    It revels in pleasantness, peppered with quirky but cheerful touches that veil the mild unease expressed in the lyrics. In many ways, Father of the Bride sounds more like a singer-songwriter album centered on Vampire-in-chief Ezra Koenig rather than the interaction of a band.