The Observer (UK)'s Scores

For 1,940 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 61% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
Lowest review score: 20 Kings & Queens of the Underground
Score distribution:
1940 music reviews
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    These punishing, three-dimensional soundscapes connect 70s No Wave with the mischievous end of contemporary digital production: quite a feat.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Giants of All Sizes is not an album to be filleted and squashed into playlists; it’s the sort of deeply serious and carefully crafted work that would sprout a beard and a cable-knit jumper if you turned your back on it for a second.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Two Hands is more earthbound than UFOF – in that there’s nothing here that quite matches that album’s astonishing peaks.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a brief but serious retrospective treatment of five pieces, going back as far as 1958. There are two versions of Naima and three of Village Blues, but they’re all different, and every performance is complete, no odds and ends.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It all adds up to yet another winning set from a band still to release a subpar album in a 25-year career.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Ultimately, all are visions, alternately haunted and comforting. Subtle evolutions in mood and instrumentation come to peaks that are made all the more stunning by their scarcity.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Brown’s storytelling is as witty as ever, with pungent bars that pop like pimples, spattering tracks with quotable filth. His best work by a distance.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Even though these arrangements are not gratuitous, and All Mirrors is beautifully wrought, it never quite devastates. More weirdness would have helped, and less default goth-pop. Strangely, Olsen’s voice gets a bit lost in the mix, a little too ill-defined, atmospheric and understated to stand up to the operatics surrounding her.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a clear-headed amalgamation of their two eras, veering from stomping emo (opener Hold My Breath Until I Die; I’ll Be Back Someday’s Avril-isms) to sleek, synth-led pop (the pogoing You Go Away and I Don’t Mind).
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    It’s an intensely, intentionally stressful listen, the occasional victory of thumping, clanking grooves over the scraping, grating racket offering an illusion of normality before snatching it away again.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Throughout, a commitment to heartfelt songcraft remains the most “country” thing about Sound & Fury.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There’s so much to take in that it requires many listens before all of Metronomy Forever’s charms reveal themselves, in part because of the palate-cleansing interstitial drones spread across the album. It’s worth the wait.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    As always, Liam’s greatest asset is his astonishing voice, all yearning and defiance. Still, his songwriting has improved. ... Sadly, most of the new songs peddle tame, low-stakes nostalgia, swimming in cliches and drowning in sentimentality, as satisfying as trying to get relationship advice out of a cashpoint.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The National’s busy polymath Aaron Dessner is producer, bringing this excellent album, full of fear and succour, into focus.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The smoothness of Hval’s musical vehicle, this time around, allows her ideas to slip in softly, almost subliminally: humanity as a virus, technology’s role in romance, bereavement, panic attacks. It’s an eerie sort of euphoria, but no less of a rush for it.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Charli, her third official album, finally hits a noisy, sweet spot. It is, hands down, the best iteration of XCX yet, the one where Aitchison’s pop capabilities line up most persuasively with her avant garde ear.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    It’s not a terrible album – it’s better than many bands that Pixies inspired – but it isn’t terribly good either.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Inspired by a wider 80s film nostalgia, these narrative songs conjure intimate, urgent dialogue and the eruption of the supernatural into the everyday.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Despite the emotional content here, Mahalia exudes a breezy mellowness, with thoroughly 2019 themes rubbing up against retro stylings.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Davis completists will grab this, but others may find there’s just not enough meat in the sandwich.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    True to quixotic form, Free doesn’t build on the success of that record [2016’s Post Pop Depression], Iggy veering off at yet another tangent, courtesy of avant garde guitarist Noveller, aka Sarah Lipstate, and jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    While there’s nothing here that quite matches the highest highs of their first pass, this is a welcome return for a singular and important band.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Overall this excellent album’s clarion-clear narratives about knife crime and the importance of good times – exemplified on Can’t Hold We Down – are delivered not just with anger and pathos, but humour.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Paul’s soft voice, washed by reverb, recalls the dreamscapes of Beach House, and there are reminders of Sharon Van Etten in the enveloping swells of drums, grungy guitars and spacey shifts of rhythm.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s hard for any artist on their fifth album to cause you to sit up and pay attention as much as Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell does, let alone for an artist who is such a past master of the disengaged, dissolute swoon.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    At 11 songs (yes, the title is a trick) and just over 25 minutes, it all makes for a short, sharp, exhilarating blast, closing with the question we’re all asking as things fall apart: What Can You Do But Rock’n’Roll?
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like previous Jay Som records, Anak Ko might seem slight at first listen, particularly Duterte’s winsome coo, but the payoff for lingering in her evolving dreamspace is hefty.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It feels like he’s aiming for a 21st-century version of classic albums such as Sign ‘O’ the Times and What’s Going On and, on astonishing, soul-scraping laments This World Is Drunk and Kings Fall, he almost gets there.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There are blank pages for fans to fill in. At nearly 30, the singer-songwriter remains an intriguing mixture of industry power-broker and giddy cat-obsessive. Lover is fine with that, but the real battle is where she goes after this.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The strangest thing about the album, however, is the nagging sense of try-hard: Sleater-Kinney have always felt effortless.