Cosmic American Music Reviews #9 Album Of 2011: Richard Buckner – Our Blood

December 23, 2011

Richard Buckner – Our Blood

Pitchfork:  8.0

The urgency you’re bound to hear in Richard Buckner‘s voice throughout Our Blood isn’t accidental. Though he’s released an album every year or two during his two-decade career, Our Blood is his first since 2006’s Meadow. Because that extended interim wasn’t intentional, it was, as you might imagine, extremely frustrating. After Meadow, Buckner stopped writing records to focus on a score for a movie that was never released; after moving to upstate New York, he worked shifts holding signs for Con Edison construction crews and assisting the Census Bureau before turning his focus back toward a proper LP. His tape machine broke, so he lost all his recordings. Then his laptop was stolen, so he lost all of his recordings again. But these restarts proved purposeful: Our Blood is the most concise, driven, and well-considered Buckner album in the last decade, his ruminative prose-poems becoming determined, last-chance exhortations.

Popmatters: 7/10

It’s indirect, sure, but puzzling out his meaning here, the way you can puzzle out the layers in the songs, is what makes Our Blood such a lasting, resonant record. Buckner established himself long ago as a songwriter of the highest order, but in this age in music—where five years between records is an eternity, maybe a career death sentence—he has grabbed our attention immediately and reminded us not only what we loved about him, but what tricks he’s learned while we weren’t paying attention.

Spin:  7/10

Brooding and oblique, Buckner’s first album in five years again seeks its pleasures in the shadows beside the bar, framed by desolate electronics far removed from the singer-songwriter’s ’90s alt-country roots.

Consequence of Sound:  3.5/5

Rooted in a blend of outlaw country, Americana, and folk, but venturing into experimental and avant garde pastures, Richard Buckner is the sort of singer-songwriter one would expect from Merge Records. This record may not be quite on the same level as his best country and experimental albums (1997′s Devotion & Doubt and 2002′s Impasse, respectively), but Old Blood offers a glimpse into the world of Richard Buckner that serves as an ideal starting point for new listeners.

AvClub: B,59763/

But the song that best embodies Our Blood is “Collusion.” “Coming up for air / from the hollow prayer,” sings Buckner under his breath as the tension between plucked strings and eerie synthesizer sucks the oxygen out of the tune. As with Buckner’s best work, though, what remains isn’t quite a vacuum; rather, it’s an afterimage, blurred and ghostly.

Paste Magazine 6.6/10

In the wake of the long string of indie rock miserabilists that have come and gone since he first released Bloomed, Buckner’s latter day understatement is refreshing in its candor and simplicity. While the album at times requires careful attention to fully attach to, it’s modestly flavored with a warmth and ease that naturally rings true.

Impose Magazine:–richard-buckner

Our Blood is difficult to listen to solely because its story has already been written: Richard Buckner is the national treasure who never gets his due. He’s so un-famous in the modern sense that he doesn’t have a Twitter account. His top-selling album, released in 1997 on a major label and widely considered his best, has scanned only 27,000 copies to date. The tour for Our Blood, though co-headlining wtih David Kilgour, takes him to venues scarcely larger than those he’s been playing since the mid-90’s. A lesser artist would have given up by now. “Someone should have told you,” he sings on the album’s “Confession”, “I guess I’m the one they warned you about.”

Dusted Magazine

These nine songs are so restless, so forlorn — in short, so Buckner-esque — that they’ll never move as many units as some other Merge bands with Canuck connections. Circumstances conspire, and history’s certainly been a queen bitch, and yet throughout it all, Richard Buckner has persevered.