Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
Critic Score
Based on 29 reviews
2016 Ratings: #4 / 886
Year End Rank: #17
User Score
Based on 398 ratings
2016 Ratings: #27
Liked by 9 people
October 21, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Sony / Label
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The Guardian

You could never describe You Want It Darker as merely more of the same. As striking as the sense that its themes are of a piece with the rest of Cohen’s oeuvre is the sense of an artist willing to move forward.


The songwriting is masterful, with some new compositions like “It’s Better That Way” in every way equal to the best work he has ever recorded.

Entertainment Weekly
On his 14th studio album, the songwriting maestro—still vital at 82—is a lion in winter, his lyrics heavy with God and sex and death and his legendary voice scraped down to a subterranean rumble.
Consequence of Sound
Using his remaining time, he’s not only putting his house in order, he’s tidying up ours too.

What You Want It Darker accomplishes isn’t just powerful instrumentation in minimalism, or strong poeticism, but that of an artist baring their soul, and the sharing of sincere truth.


It’s become a cliché to treat every latter-day Cohen album like a potential swansong but it’s hard to imagine a richer, finer or more satisfying finale than this.

The Line of Best Fit

Melancholy lyrical ruminations on fatality are nothing new for Cohen, but on these nine new songs he seems resigned – even comforted – that the end is getting near.


It feels like the most human of his late works, with acoustic instrumentation carefully balanced alongside drum programming and vintage keyboards.


Leonard Cohen's 14th studio album feels like a pristine, piously crafted last testament, the informed conclusion of a lifetime of inquiry.

A.V. Club

On this record, Cohen is choosing to tie up loose ends in the way he sees fit, with equal parts wistfulness and acceptance. In other words, he’s choosing to examine his life (and life’s work) rather than ponder the abyss. That ensures You Want It Darker doesn’t feel like an ending, as much as it feels like one more chapter in Cohen’s songbook.

Rolling Stone

Following a string of records that have each felt like a swan song, You Want It Darker may be Cohen's most haunting LP.


You Want It Darker is a hell of a record.


You Want It Darker is a strong record, with an even stronger message. With age comes wisdom and reflection, which certainly rings clear here, as Cohen gracefully wonders — as we all do — what'll happen next.

NOW Magazine

You Want It Darker is frightening, aching and, finally, sad. But, on this gorgeous, essential record, the sadness is illuminated. It glows.

Drowned in Sound

He’s pulled out all the stops to create an album that is as bleak as it is entertaining. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, he offers, as usual glimpses of redemption.

Slant Magazine

The culmination of 50 years of moody, often melancholic music, You Want It Darker stands out as the musical equivalent thereof, a wry reckoning of a lifetime's worth of damaged relationships, upheld vows, and broken promises from pop's preeminent emotional accountant.

As the name would imply, Cohen's final record is a dark and gloomy experience. A powerful send off to a legend.

Best Track: Travelling Light
Worst Track: It Seemed The Better Way
We wanted it darker, he delivered
Being aware that you are probably facing the end of the road could be an intimidating and powerful driving force for any of us, but when an artist like Leonard Cohen is challenged in the same way, the outcome is superb.

Cohen last album is not a death ode as many of you could probably think, actually, in my view it is totally the opposite. This is a beautiful and simple manifesto, which only tries to celebrates a handful of the most appreciated memories deeply kept in Cohen's soul and at the ... read more
A masterful piece of songwriting and introspection, Cohen puts together an intelligent and beautiful record that could only be accomplished by a man full of experience and wisdom. Cohen's deep and haunting voice are complimented by the peaceful and vibrant textures of the instrumentation, and his soul is exposed for all to see for one last time. That soul will live on through this special album; a farewell fitting for a legend.

Favorite track: It Seemed The Better Way
Some super engaging and chilling songs here, but his voice can sometimes be a turn off for me, just a bit too raspy for my taste. Whilst it is a very haunting, atmospheric and intimate record for Leonard Cohen, and if it ends up being his final album it's definitely a good way to go out, I can't say I see myself returning to it a lot. Still though, the LP is very well written and instrumentally pleasant aswell, so I applaud it and recommend it for that, just a little low in regards to replay ... read more
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Track List

  1. You Want It Darker
  2. Treaty
  3. On the Level
  4. Leaving the Table
  5. If I Didn't Have Your Love
  6. Traveling Light
  7. It Seemed the Better Way
  8. Steer Your Way
  9. String Reprise / Treaty
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Added on: September 21, 2016