Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth - Utopian Ashes
Critic Score
Based on 21 reviews
2021 Ratings: #318 / 607
User Score
Based on 77 ratings
2021 Ratings: #632
July 2, 2021 / Release Date
LP / Format
Third Man / Label
Jehnny Beth, Bobby Gillespie / Primary Artists
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CRITIC REVIEWS

90
Gigwise

It’s a theatrical, vulnerable album that may not exactly be easy-listening, but one that is simply an experience. One of 2021’s most unexpected delights, that’s for sure.

85
Under The Radar

Though Gillespie and Beth both break from their established styles on Utopian Ashes, they strike on something truly special in the process—a bountiful collaborative relationship and a resulting record of powerful drama and sweeping instrumental beauty.

80
Uncut

It is also the most emotionally mature and fully realised work Gillespie has delivered in years, laying rainy, soulful, impassioned vocals over sumptuously old-school chansons clothed in vintage orchestrally country-rock arrangements.

80
Classic Rock

Beth brings the post-punk elegance, Gillespie the languor and country rock anguish, and together they craft a devastatingly detailed fictional portrait of a married couple falling apart.

80
Mojo

It's not easy listening, but profoundly engaging and redemptive.

80
The Observer

The Primal Scream frontman trades brashness for contemplation in this rewarding collaboration with the former Savages singer.

80
The Arts Desk

What makes this more than pastiche or side-project is the songs, which cut deeply and coherently into adult relationships as they simmer and immolate. It’s an album of dualities deeper than its contrasting singers.

80
NME

It’s understated, and a quietly affecting success.

80
American Songwriter

Whether this is the beginning of an extended musical partnership or just a one-off, it’s a powerful and rewarding album. That’s especially the case for those who have been through the more challenging parts of the broken relationship mill.

80
AllMusic

By pushing each other out of their comfort zones, Beth and Gillespie make Utopian Ashes an unabashedly theatrical -- and consistently entertaining -- look at falling out of love.

80
musicOMH

Everything smacks of this being a grown-up album. Where grown-up in this instance is actually about being entirely honest and forthright about how bad things are. And it’s immensely, moreishly listenable.

80
The Irish Times

This minimal, pared-back line-up works wonders in offering something dramatically different to Gillespie and Beth’s respective bands, or any usual expectations and preconceptions.

80
Clash

Aiming to pin down essential emotions in a personal way, ‘Utopian Ashes’ succeeds beyond their imaginations – a crisp, entrancing song cycle, it’s unaffected feel helps it linger long in the memory.

80
DIY

On 'Utopian Ashes', Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth breathe new life into an old formula, and surface triumphant.

70
Northern Transmissions

That power persists through much of Utopian Ashes, and even if Gillespie and Beth seem more focused on the delivery then they do the words, it’s easy to get swept into the grandiosity of it all.

70
The Sydney Morning Herald

Gillespie and Beth could have taken more risks with the attack and interplay of their voices, using their generational divide ... to find some emotional friction, but the album works as a monument to the regret that invariably follows the happiness.

60
Dork

Evoking the melancholy feeling of sitting by yourself in a dark bar after a heated argument, its eclecticism is its true strength. But this melancholy is of a calm nature, of spent rage and tired eyes.

40
Crack Magazine

Utopian Ashes is too self-involved, stuck inside its own four walls, to have anything to say outside of them.

NTTR
56
Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth - Utopian Ashes

Genre: Chamber Pop
Country: UK

Final Verdict: 56% (Pleasant Album)
Yearly Ranking: 454th / 588

Highlight: Stones of Silence

Made me think of:
Hamilton Leithauser
Tindersticks
Rise Twain
Matt Berninger
summerboywest
64
Why does this feel so much like Arctic Monkeys' last record, except far less interesting?
FatalNoise
55
Am a little undecided on how I feel about this one but most tracks sounded pretty and definitely flowed with my mood at the moment. Understand some bits are a little less interesting but as a whole I enjoyed it
63
There are few better musical outlets than the orchestrated country-soul-pop duet album for romantic partners, whether real or fictional, to express their doomed love. Trailblazed by the likes of Nancy and Lee, Gram and Emmylou, or even Richard and Linda for a particularly British iteration, the form is timeless enough that these duos remain instantly identifiable by first name alone. And while there have been some modern antecedents — think Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, or Jenny Lewis ... read more
CheapandLethal
65
Better stuff out there
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Added on: April 2, 2021