It's not that bad, but then again your experience with Solar varies with the right hardware. I have some mediocre stuff, so it's not as mind-blowing to me (I am sorry, the solar flares boot screen is amazing... my system is just too weak to run that).
For Ubuntu to do better with the design, they will have to re-think how they approaching there brown-themes. In Fedora, having seen the Art Team at work, is extremely focused on a theme.... since 7. Ubuntu seems to just toss things on the wall and see what sticks, considering that upstream is varied in visual consistency... that doesn't always work.
Ubuntu should take a leaf out of Fedora's book!