Popular Problems
LeonardCohenPopularProblems.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 19, 2014
Recorded2013–14
GenreContemporary folk, folk pop, soft rock
Length35.56
LabelColumbia
ProducerPatrick Leonard
Leonard Cohen chronology
Old Ideas
(2012)
Popular Problems
(2014)
Live in Dublin
(2014)

Popular Problems is the thirteenth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen,[1] released on September 19, 2014 in Friday-release countries (such as France and Ireland) and on September 22, 2014 elsewhere.[citation needed]

Overview

Most of the songs were new, though Cohen did debut "Born in Chains" onstage in 2010 and "My Oh My" was played during a soundcheck the same year.

The 2010 version of "Born in Chains" differs radically in terms of arrangements and singing compared to the 2014 studio version, and the song itself was first performed as early as 1985, during an (unofficially recorded) soundcheck in Europe. The early version used earlier lyrics set to the music which later become the song "I Can't Forget", released on Cohen's 1988 record I'm Your Man. Through the years, Cohen referred to the song as "Taken Out of Egypt", reciting it on show in 1988, and humming it to the new melody in 2005 documentary Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.[2]

"A Street" was recited by Cohen in 2006, during promotion of his book of poetry Book of Longing, and later printed twice, as "A Street" in the March 2, 2009 issue of The New Yorker magazine,[3] and as "Party's Over" in Everyman's Library edition of Cohen's Poems and Songs in 2011. Both versions include a verse referring to 9/11.

"Nevermind" was published as the poem in 2005 on The Leonard Cohen Files website, and in Book of Longing in 2006. In 2015, it was used as the opening credits theme of the second season of the HBO series True Detective.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.2/10[4]
Metacritic86/100[5]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[6]
The A.V. ClubB+[7]
Cuepoint (Expert Witness)B+[8]
The Daily Telegraph5/5 stars[9]
The Guardian4/5 stars[10]
The Independent5/5 stars[11]
NME8/10[12]
Pitchfork7.6/10[13]
Q4/5 stars[14]
Uncut9/10[15]

Upon its release the album received uniformly positive reviews from critics, with Metacritic tallying 26 positive reviews for an aggregate score of 86, designated on the site as "universal acclaim".[5] Thom Jurek of AllMusic wrote that, at 80 years old, "Cohen not only has plenty left in the tank, but is at his most confident and committed" and called it his best album since 1992's The Future.[6] The New York Times gave a moderately positive review, calling Cohen "one of rock’s most profound aphorists" but dismissing the "bouncy country" production of "Did I Ever Love You" as the album's "major misstep".[16] Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph called the album "a masterpiece".[9]

The album was a shortlisted Juno Award nominee for Adult Alternative Album of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2015.[17]

Commercial performance

The album peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 20,000 copies in its first week.[18] In its second week, the album fell to number two behind Bryan Adams's Tracks of My Years, with sales of 10,500.[19] As of January 2015, Popular Problems has sold 80,000 copies in Canada.[20]

In the United States, the album debuted at No. 15 on Billboard 200, No. 1 on Folk Albums and No. 4 on Top Rock Albums, with 20,000 copies sold. The album has sold 67,000 copies in the US as of May 2015.[21]

Track listing

Written by Leonard Cohen and Patrick Leonard, except where indicated

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Slow" 3:25
2."Almost Like the Blues" 3:28
3."Samson in New Orleans" 4:39
4."A Street"Cohen, Anjani Thomas3:32
5."Did I Ever Love You" 4:10
6."My Oh My" 3:36
7."Nevermind" 4:39
8."Born in Chains"Cohen4:55
9."You Got Me Singing" 3:31
Total length:35:55

Personnel

Chart positions

Certifications

RegionCertificationCertified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[55]Gold7,500*
Canada (Music Canada)[56]Platinum80,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[57]Platinum20,000^
France (SNEP)[58]Gold50,000*
Hungary (MAHASZ)[59]Gold1,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[60]Platinum20,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[61]Gold10,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[62]Silver60,000*
United States67,000[21]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history

DateRegion
19 September 2014Friday-release countries (such as France[63])
22 September 2014Worldwide

References

  1. ^ "Leonard Cohen Releases 'Popular Problems' on September 23, 2014. A Dynamic studio album of new songs". Leonard Cohen. August 19, 2014. Archived from the original on August 22, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  2. ^ "Born in Chains- 2005 "performance" - leonardcohenforum.com". www.leonardcohenforum.com.
  3. ^ "A Street by Leonard Cohen". The New Yorker. March 2, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "Popular Problems by Leonard Cohen reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Reviews for Popular Problems by Leonard Cohen". Metacritic. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "Popular Problems – Leonard Cohen". AllMusic. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  7. ^ Schonfeld, Zach (September 23, 2014). "Leonard Cohen teases death on the lean, surprising Popular Problems". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 31, 2014). "Robert Christgau: Expert Witness". Cuepoint. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  9. ^ a b McCormick, Neil (September 23, 2014). "Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems, review: 'a masterpiece'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Petridis, Alexis (September 18, 2014). "Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems review – an octogenarian rejuvenated". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Gill, Andy (September 12, 2014). "Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems, album review: Simple songs with a sharp lyrical blade". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on September 13, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  12. ^ Cooper, Leonie (September 19, 2014). "Leonard Cohen – 'Popular Problems'". NME. Archived from the original on September 23, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  13. ^ Powell, Mike (September 24, 2014). "Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  14. ^ "Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems". Q (340): 109. November 2014.
  15. ^ Jones, Allan (November 6, 2014). "Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Uncut. Archived from the original on October 24, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "Albums by Leonard Cohen, Otis Brown III and Lee Ann Womack". The New York Times. 23 September 2014.
  17. ^ "The 2015 Juno Awards Nominees Announced in Toronto" Archived 2019-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. Cashbox, January 29, 2015.
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