Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
Buy On
  1. Sep 5, 2019
    The album maintains the smouldering quality that Lower Dens have always had, but replaces all the washed-out splendor with exacting pop hooks borrowed straight from the Reagan era. It ends up being both the headiest and most commercial material the band has created. It’s a different beast from their earlier iterations, but a compelling remodelling with interlocking layers of both sound and cultural critique.
  2. Sep 11, 2019
    ‘The Competition’ gets a hell of a lot right, and you get the feeling for album five it might finally all together perfectly.
  3. Mojo
    Sep 4, 2019
    Meditative Time (You Got Me) sets the pace: a gently rambling rumination twinkling with congas, shakers and bird-like flutes. [Oct 2019, p.92]
  4. Sep 9, 2019
    He embraces a lush, widescreen sound with such vigor that even he can't keep up with, causing the album to lose some momentum as it settles into repetition. But Hunter's biting social critique is the focal point from start to finish, revealing his more vulnerable self in the process—a bold reinvention that should follow whichever direction he chooses to take from here on out.
  5. Sep 10, 2019
    The Competition heralds Hunter’s arrival as an artist who is able to communicate implicitly every bit as much as much as explicitly.
  6. Sep 11, 2019
    Forced through the sieve of the overarching concept, some of the songs, both in sound and content, come off as overwrought and obvious. ... The strongest songs are the simplest.
  7. Sep 10, 2019
    The Competition uses the aesthetics of the ‘80s dance floor to try to understand the rising tide of global nationalism. That makes it an easy listen despite its divisive subject matter.
  8. Sep 12, 2019
    Lower Dens have the right ideas for their music, but they’re not always the right ideas at the right time. This album, flawed as it may be, is still worthwhile for when the latter happens, like with the heated guitar work and wailing vocals of ‘Two-Faced Love’.
  9. 80
    The Competition proves a multi-layered offering from the two-piece, juxtaposing viscerally relevant themes with modulating, often overpowering soundscapes. It's volatile, beguiling stuff, and utterly distinctive.
  10. Uncut
    Sep 4, 2019
    The follow-up sees them cutting all ties to their bleak kosmische past, shaping Jana Hunter's songs--which reflect politico-personal anxiety about our collective raging competitiveness, among other things--into darkly gleaming and hopeful synthpop panoramas. Hunter's rich contralto is always at their centre. [Oct 2019, p.29]
  11. Sep 27, 2019
    A good new album. Lower Dens is not a band that has to stretch too far for brainy, steely, atmospheric electronic pop, but latent rage is expressed in the absurdity of "Young Republicans."

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