"The problem facing The Kinks when they released The Village Green Preservation Society in late November 1968 wasn't merely the competition-- Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, Led Zeppelin's debut, and the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet offered plenty-- but that this subtle, funny, surreal, and at times almost tender record could have been recorded on another planet. During the summer of 1968, stateside fans were hooked on a high-intensity diet that had them jonesing for aggressive, overstated fare like "Street Fighting Man" and "You Shook Me" and "Communication Breakdown". The disconnect between The Kinks and the rock world's rapidly narrowing palette could hardly have been more pronounced. Compare the Stones' bombastic, urban "Sympathy for the Devil" with understated work like "Village Green", bouncing along like a horse and buggy as Ray Davies paints the landscape: "Out in the country, far from all the soot and noise of the city..."
(...) Intricately sketched and brimming with unusual arrangements, The Village Green Preservation Society was the first clear look at an iconoclastic, imaginative and sometimes brilliant artist as he came into his own. Audiences used to sizing up work on a scale created for rock gods and counter-culture icons were forced to consider this album as a piece of conceptual art. The Lennon-McCartney/Jagger-Richards duos towered over and shaped the sensibilities of a vast army; Davies explored a deeply personal world that confounded fans even as it provoked their curiosity.
(...) The peculiar sensibility that first raised its head on 1965's Kinkdom with the hit singles "Dedicated Follower and Fashion" and "A Well Respected Man" looks different in light ofThe Village Green Preservation Society. Before the latter album was released, those songs seemed like parody or blue-collar humor; in retrospect, Davies was showing a quirky, iconoclastic hand that would soon be more relevant to his music than the hard-rocking "You Really Got Me". It's also interesting to consider Village Green as a carefully sculpted product of Ray Davies' singular artistic vision. The album is commonly regarded as having the feel of solo work, and if this is a matter of opinion, the songs are singular enough as to probably make collaboration difficult. More than that, at a time when rock instrumentalists were beginning to stretch out, The Kinks' playing here always serves the songs, and Davies' vocals in particular."
J.H. Tompkins, Pitchfork