The Observer (UK)'s Scores

For 2,021 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 60% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 PROTO
Lowest review score: 20 Cavalier Youth
Score distribution:
2021 music reviews
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s far more satisfying musically, however, working as a good showcase for Jason Williamson’s stream-of-consciousness rants and Andrew Fearn’s unshowy but effective beats, from the frantic spleen-venting of 2014’s Jolly Fucker to the menace of last year’s OBCT.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The record is most effective when Lindén sounds more animated, as on I’ll Be the Death of You and the nimble, propulsive, Kraftwerk-influenced Neon Lights. Unfortunately these moments are overshadowed by lengthier excursions that give longueurs a bad name.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Sonically, it can blend a little into one, but the closing feature from the late rapper Lexii, a friend and collaborator of Kehlani’s, is a rousing, poignant end to a largely accomplished set.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Sometimes, everything combines arrestingly: sounds, words and resonance. ... Where this record falters is when Ghostpoet’s writing turns prosaic, and when the echoes of other artists become impossible to ignore.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The new styles don’t all gel.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Normally, you’d roll your eyes at such breathtaking derivations, but Marling’s record is so mellifluous and listenable, in part thanks to the unobtrusive string arrangements by Bob Moose.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If the grain of this album is purposely rougher-hewn, with boxy acoustics trading off with the odd sub-bass boom, the songwriting remains complex and elevated.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A low-key, slow-burn delight.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The production here is both crisp and sinuous; ethereal indeterminacy trades off with crackling attention to detail.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The New Abnormal remains a frustrating listen despite its gleam. Faster tempos would have helped.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The standout track is Cruel Disguise, where Harvieu’s melancholy, powerful vocal combines with a lithe bassline and baroque rock stylings. And while the singer may no longer be flavour of the month, this is still an impressive set.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The trio’s appetite for drugs, women and money never wavers from first to last track. Yet the more introspective songs, such as the spectral Traumatised and thoughtful High Road, tell powerful stories about their journey to success, and prove that D-Block Europe’s imperial phase is far from its end.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The drawback here is not that Bruner hasn’t made the out-and-out pop album his narrative arc as an artist might demand. Nor is it that he is showcasing his conservatoire-grade talents. It is, perhaps, that he doesn’t sit with one emotion, be it high or low, for a sustained length of time.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    925
    925 packs in more than a few disruptive ideas. But Sorry haven’t yet acquired the musical vocabulary to pull them off.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There’s a sharpness in these songs that still unsettles. It’s there in Crutchfield’s vocals, louder and fiercer than before, and on songs such as Fire, which is also difficult to love. Her lyrics, tackling subjects including addiction and self-hatred, often feel too verbose, but they become surprising and refreshing on closer listen.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There are so many good tracks on here that you want to say there is not a bad track on this outrageously fine pop record. But there is. Love in the Dark is a flaccid ballad [...] that almost undoes all the powerful work Reyez has done thus far. Almost, but not quite.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Electronics are very much to the fore. This feels like an analogue record, each note having a furry aura.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The palette of sounds she draws from on the long-awaited, and largely self-incubated, follow-up is familiar. ... She saves the most affecting song for last, Speaking of the End making its mark with just understated piano and her unadorned voice.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Aware that any language barrier can be overcome by a plethora of hooks and a prevailing atmosphere, Balvin adds a playful embellishment to each of the album’s 10 tracks, be it Amarillo’s kazoo-assisted beat, or the twinkling glacial percussion that tickles closer Blanco. A riot not just of colour, but of ideas too.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It’s a shame that the album overstays its welcome a little. As always, the Casady sisters are best in small, surreal doses.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    These arrangements are never overloaded, the brass remains stately and discreet. If Reid never quite poleaxes you with her insights, this remains a thoroughly lovely record.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There are hints of experimentation, such as Nice to Meet Ya’s swaggering hybrid of Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian, but it’s the excellent title track’s flirtation with glossy, synth-tinged MOR that suggests where Horan might be headed next. Proof that it’s often the quiet ones you need to keep an eye on.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s never as transcendent as 1997’s When I Was Born For The 7th Time, but when Tjinder exhorts “amplifier to the echo chamber… mixer to the microphone” on St Marie Under Canon it doesn’t sound like a tired old rocker glumly gazing round the studio for ideas, it sounds like liberation, celebration.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The more direct songs work best – most notably the simmering Shadowbanned and the contrastingly carefree bonus track Juliefuckingette – but there is just as much to enjoy in the album’s hinterlands too.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The Long Goodbye can feel heavy-handed: even those phoned-in messages from famous friends (Mindy Kaling, Asim Chaudhry) sound jarring. Ultimately, though, Ahmed delivers, offering up some clever writing on this powerful concept album.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Heavy Light confirms a major talent.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Virile is the undisputed centrepiece of this stunning first section of græ, a sumptuous track in which Sumney’s falsetto, allied with waves of lavish instrumentation and pugnacious rhythms, breaks down ideas of masculinity.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    An album overloaded with artfully polished tedium.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Miss Anthropocene is a deep, dark trip – shame the climate crisis bit isn’t also part of Grimes’s wild imagination.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It can feel a little lacking in direction – honed down from more than 900 home experiments, it’s eclectic almost to a fault, though there’s enough to treasure among its dreamy meanderings.