Searching For The Young Soul Rebels - Reception


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Robert Christgau B
Pitchfork Media 8.9/10
Drowned In Sound 9/10
Melody Maker

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels has been widely acclaimed by music critics. In 2008 the BBC stated that "Young Soul Rebels - fierce, raging and passionate - remains one of the greatest debut albums of all time" and later commented "this was the sound of a soul released from a straitjacket still blazes as poetry." Pitchfork Media and Drowned In Sound gave the album 8.9/10 and 9/10 respectively, both calling it their most coherent and consistent record, Drowned In Sound adding "in fact it’s damned near perfect." Allmusic gave the album 4 and a half stars, explaining its importance as "Rowland takes a role that Morrissey would have in 1985 and Jarvis Cocker in 1995 - the unexpected but perfect voice to capture a time and moment in the U.K - the return of "soul" to English rock music at the dawn of Thatcherism." In a lengthy retrospective review Uncut gave the album 5 stars, concluding with "ultimately, the myth-making around Kevin Rowland tends to obscure the fact that he’s been responsible for some truly soul-scorching music. At 30 years of age, Young Soul Rebels continues to burn." Melody Maker gave the album 5 stars, calling Dexys "the best white soul band of all time. This album is still new testament in truth and communication, clear ideas finding their perfect expression," while Mojo gave it 4 stars, calling it "the most incandescent and refreshing record of the year " Robert Christgau expressed more of a mixed opinion, giving the album a B, explaining "this is not a soul record. It is a weird record - There are horn interjections that make me laugh out loud at their perfectly timed wrong rightness, and with Kevin Rowland quavering through his deeply felt poesy and everybody else blaring away, I enjoy it in much the same way I enjoy a no wave band."

The album was included in the 1980 "Albums of the Year" lists for Melody Maker, which was in no particular order, and NME, being placed at #10. It has since been included on numerous critics' lists and reference books, including The Guardian's list of the 100 Best Albums Ever (#93), Melody Maker's of the All Time Top 100 Albums (#42), NME's list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever (#16) and a place in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

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