Although King received some great reviews and pleased Donelly's loyal fanbase, critics' praise wasn't unanimous:
'On "Red," the third song on King, Belly shifted gears between three different tempos and lyrical moods, abruptly jumping from one to the other. Not every song was quite so jarring, but the overall effect of Belly's second album was disquieting in an appropriately "alternative" way -- the guitar chords were familiar, but loosely played and never stayed for long in a single pattern; Tanya Donelly's singing could coo or declaim, repeating lines that never quite added up to choruses; and her lyrics, despite what often seemed like promising beginnings, always wandered off into, well, navel-gazing. There were all the elements of stirring music and compelling songs in this material, but it seemed to have been deliberately skewed toward the vague and impressionistic and away from clarity and coherence.'
William Ruhlmann in All Music Guide to Rock (1995)