AOTY 2018
Julia Holter - Aviary
Critic Score
Based on 24 reviews
2018 Ratings: #137 / 705
Year End Rank: #44
User Score
Based on 247 ratings
2018 Ratings: #36
October 26, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Domino / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

90
Exclaim!

Sweeping and intimate all at once, Aviary never settles for comforting platitudes or dour resignation. It's honest, it's hopeful, and it's surely among Holter's finest achievements.

90
Tiny Mix Tapes
Together, its 15 tracks form an intimidating but coherent whole that serves as Holter’s most sophisticated and engaging release to date. For a composer of Holter’s rapidly increasing stature, that is high praise indeed.
90
PopMatters

With her new record, Aviary, Julia Holter expands her scope to include elements of free improvisation, neo-classical leanings, and folk-induced hallucinations, thereby producing a substantial work of art.

90
Sputnikmusic

This is a complex, stunning, and challenging record that will undoubtedly alienate some. But if you’ve enjoyed Holter to this point, it is worth investing the necessary time. Aviary touches every corner of her sound, resulting in an enchanting, if slightly dizzying, fifth album.

86
Resident Advisor

Holter has always taken pop and presented her own masterful version of it. But her desire to break through the distressing clatter of the present is what makes Aviary her most captivating album yet.

85
The Line of Best Fit

Be warned: a full appreciation of this album requires numerous listens - it offers little at first glance, but the moment you surrender yourself to this fate, all becomes clear.

83
Consequence of Sound

Aviary benefits from its overlong sprawl, a testament to the art of slowing down and getting lost in a challenging album that has been forgotten in the age of streaming where new releases inundate with their frequency.

82
Pitchfork

If Holter’s preceding records were novellas, Aviary feels more like a meticulously organized compilation of mind-altering field notes in which a single page can be a world, and its depth is stunning.

80
Under The Radar

Surrounded by all this noise, this eternal series of accidents, Holter the poet chooses to process it all and create something beautiful. She chooses to love. Because she must.

80
The Skinny

A challenging but rewarding album, Aviary continually grasps towards communication, exulting in common humanity amid societal ruptures.

80
No Ripcord

There are many familiar motifs that recall Holter's past work throughout Aviary, from jazzy shuffles to lush baroque flourishes, but never has she connected both new and old techniques with such rich sonic detail.

80
Clash
Works of art like these elevate us beyond the material world, if only for an afternoon, and for that Holter remains worth her weight in gold.
80
The Guardian

The majority of Aviary is designed to be mused on mindfully, but there are a handful of more immediate moments.

80
AllMusic

On Aviary, Holter answers the chaos of 21st century life by following her bliss; the results are a constellation of moments that celebrate the fullness of her music and, as always, make for fascinating listening.

80
Drowned in Sound

Aviary will be a challenging listen for many, but its message needs to be heard.

80
The Needle Drop
Aviary allows patient listeners an opportunity to sink into the depths of pure beauty.
80
Spectrum Culture
Holter’s last few records could seem like oblique vignettes or miraculous puzzle boxes to poke at. But this isn’t an album to solve, it’s meant to get lost in. Considering her well-documented love of Greek mythology, it’s appropriate that with her longest album, she’s created her own labyrinth.
75
Northern Transmissions

This time around she really pushes the limits of her writing into intense and unexpected directions. This said the album feels like a few different records tied together, so it’s easy to lose hold of the record from song to song.

75
The 405

In spite of its demanding length and level of weirdness, Aviary is an incredibly immersive voyage and arguably her greatest achievement. In fact, it wouldn’t be too bold to say this is an Art pop masterpiece via one of the best songwriters alive—it’s just not for everyone, and Holter is ok with that.

70
musicOMH

Aviary is not a great album – it’s too much of an ordeal for that accolade, requiring multiple listens to even start to engage with meaningfully. But it is, in its own idiosyncratic way, a towering artistic accomplishment. Just be prepared for a hard slog scaling the summit.

70
God Is in the TV

Just like birds, Aviary is both beautiful and raucous. It replaces the need for rhythms, choruses and memorable hooks with spacious and unpredictable sonic experimentation and it’s not an easy listen ... Yet experienced in the right atmosphere and mindset it’s a rewarding, dazzling and praiseworthy addition to Holter’s consistently intelligent catalogue.

60
Loud and Quiet
One must concede that ‘Aviary’ is a job well done, and in the present era of buttoned-up no-risk pop, too, it’s encouraging to encounter an album as sprawling and idiosyncratic as this. Whether its very existence is enough to justify its virtues beyond the bagpipe enthusiasts, however, is harder to discern.
60
Dork

Perhaps her most opaque record to date, it’s not likely to turn sceptics around. But for those used to Holter’s dazzlingly expansive combination of sometimes jazzy, sometimes baroque orchestration and moody ambience, ‘Aviary’ is an album worth getting to know.

60
DIY
Unusual yet distinctive, ‘Aviary’ may alienate some but you can’t fault the depth of Julia’s grand vision for her work.
BradTasteMusic
85
an hour and thirty minutes of pure bliss. really a gorgeous listen. Not for everyone, but worth checking out
JohnLouisHoward
100
Hitchcock's The Birds was almost two hours long, and this Aviary comes in at a lengthy hour and almost 30 minutes, but it is just as spellbinding and entrancing. the songs here are actually movements within the symphonic structure of the work, and Holter's artistry encompasses both tactics and strategy, with each piece taking flight on its own wings, but tracing a path that fits into the overall structure in often surprising ways. from raven darkness, to peacock prancing, to dazzling splashes ... read more
WildChameleon
68
Second listen : My review will remain the same. It's more like a hit or miss than a grower. Aviary reminds me the Utopia album of Bjork. Utopia was also a challenge : longer, complex textures and many uncomfortable sounds. But the difference is that Utopia was more cohesive and has more distinct choices than Aviary. If you liked the previous album, and specially have you in my wilderness, it will be the same shock as the transition Vulnicura to Utopia.

Aviary is exhausting. Nearly 1h30, we ... read more
morningsbell
83
Absolutely beautifully crafted... I love how this album can start off with some of the grandest soundscapes I've heard and go to more ambient moments. Holter definitely had a lot of ideas to show on this album, and a lot of those moments are really well executed, but that kinda leaves the less interesting moments a bit forgettable. If the album is shorter and have less switches between grand and minimalist soundscapes, this album would be more consistent, and I might even be able to call it one ... read more
buttholewasabi
80
One of the prettiest albums I've heard in a very long time. So many moments on this album cover me in goosebumps and take my breath away. My personal favourite album from Holter. One of my favorites of the year, no question.
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Track List

  1. Turn the Light on
  2. Whether
  3. Chaitius
  4. Voce Simul
  5. Everyday Is an Emergency
  6. Another Dream
  7. I Shall Love 2
  8. Underneath the Moon
  9. Colligere
  10. In Gardens' Muteness
  11. I Would Rather See
  12. Les Jeux to You
  13. Words I Heard
  14. I Shall Love 1
  15. Why Sad Song
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Added on: September 6, 2018