Neko Case’s strong, torchy voice always made her seem a “force of nature,” said Stephen Deusner in Pitchforkmedia.com. But the fiery-haired chanteuse actually becomes one on Middle Cyclone. She rips into her fifth solo album with “This Tornado Loves You,” brazenly taking the point of view of a twister as the “guitars whip around her and the snare drums patter frantically.” Later, she takes the form of a cyclone, an elephant, and a killer whale, revealing primal instincts while showing “immense control and surprising physical and stylistic range.”

As much as Case embraces the beast within, only some of the “material matches her gift,” said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly. Case shows passion on “People Got a Lotta Nerve,” belting out the lyric “man, man, man-eater.” Other tracks, however, are subdued by “husky” atmospherics. But even when this album lacks punch, it’s “nearly impossible to hate.”