The King of Whys

Owen - The King of Whys
Critic Score
Based on 13 reviews
2016 Ratings: #416 / 760
User Score
Based on 18 ratings
July 29, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Polyvinyl / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

83
A.V. Club

It’s the kind of record that will appease Owen fans, but it’s lush enough—and inspired enough—to suggest that Owen is perhaps the best it’s ever been.

80
The Skinny
Warmly mature yet never dull, this is a rare treat.
80
Exclaim!

The King of Whys is wrought with restless artistry, simultaneously looking for and finding emotional release through musical exploration, lyrical introspection and bits of dry humour.

80
Dork
As beautiful and haunting as you’d expect, Owen still finds space to surprise.
75
The Line of Best Fit

Like his brother, he’s long been reticent about the emo label, and the far-from-brief press release for The King of Whys doesn’t use that particular word once. Perhaps he feels that it sounds a touch childish now that he’s on the approach to middle age; if the king of emo is dead, then, long live Mike Kinsella, master of melancholy.

75
Consequence of Sound

Owen remains as confessional as ever, lingering on life’s uncomfortable questions in a way that reads like emo for people who grew out of emo 20 years ago.

72
Pitchfork

Whether or not Kinsella can actually remember his teenage feelings, The King of Whys proves that he can still experience them.

70
Drowned in Sound

Although there is nothing world-beating here, Kinsella ... may well have struck a formula that propels his Owen project into the stratosphere of other highly regarded midwest-American contemporaries Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens or Tallest Man on Earth. 

70
AllMusic

There isn't a single solo acoustic-guitar ballad in the set, but even with the ramped-up accompaniment, The King of Whys is still more intimate than any of Kinsella's prior bands.

70
No Ripcord

Rather than taking many risks, The King of Whys polishes the most successful aspects of past Owen albums, making it one of the strongest albums in Kinsella’s vast discography; the home truths may not make it an enjoyable listen, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

70
Clash

‘The King of Whys’ is void of any bad songs and has an abundance of gravitas.

60
DIY

Being able to track the slight but definite progression through each next Owen album is infinitely rewarding, and ‘The King of Whys’ does its job perfectly as such.

40
Loud and Quiet

The problem with this album lies in the discrepancy between risks taken in subject mater – freely and frequently taken risks – and the prosaic, middle of the road music and lyrics.

Fallendomino
77
Owen or Into It Over It?...

...Either way, it's a forsaken trudge through syrup-laden sorrow. The addition of numerous other instruments along the LP showcase a breadth beyond the simple singer/songwriter archetype. However, oftentimes the drums become too over-powering; and although there are a few songs that break up the ever-present monotony, the tone of the album channels sleepiness in the listener--rather than mindful gloominess.

Notable Songs: "The Desperate Act"; ... read more
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END OF YEAR LISTS

#40/BrooklynVegan

Track List

  1. Empty Bottle
  2. The Desperate Act
  3. Settled Down
  4. Lovers Come and Go
  5. Tourniquet
  6. A Burning Soul
  7. Saltwater
  8. An Island
  9. Sleep Is a Myth
  10. Lost
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Added on: June 24, 2016