Planetarium (album)

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Planetarium
Planetarium (album) cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 9, 2017 (2017-06-09)
Recorded2013
Length75:59
Label4AD
Sufjan Stevens chronology
Carrie & Lowell Live
(2017)
Planetarium
(2017)
The Greatest Gift
(2017)
Singles from Planetarium
  1. "Saturn"
    Released: March 26, 2017

Planetarium is a collaborative album featuring Bryce Dessner of the indie rock band The National, drummer James McAlister, contemporary classical music composer and arranger Nico Muhly, and singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens.[1] The album was released by 4AD on June 9, 2017.[1] The group announced the recording on March 26, sharing the album's track listing along with the song "Saturn".[1]

Composition[edit]

The album consists of songs inspired by the Solar System. There are songs for the system's planets—Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—as well as the dwarf planet, Pluto. There are also songs inspired by black holes, Halley's Comet, the Kuiper belt, the Moon, and the Sun.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.1/10[2]
Metacritic72/100[3]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[4]
The A.V. ClubC+[5]
The Guardian4/5 stars[6]
The Independent4/5 stars[7]
Mojo3/5 stars[8]
The Observer4/5 stars[9]
Pitchfork6.0/10[10]
Q3/5 stars[11]
The Times4/5 stars[12]
Uncut8/10[13]

Planetarium received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 72 based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[3] The Guardian critic Kate Hutchinson dubbed Planetarium an "immersive, celestial space opera" and advised that it would be "best enjoyed loud, certainly in a live setting".[6] Kitty Empire of The Observer wrote that the album, with its "grandeur and... considerable digital mayhem", recalled the electronics of Stevens' 2010 album The Age of Adz.[9] Joseph Mathieu of Exclaim! praised the album's musical diversity and remarked that it "does the solar system justice with almost every conceivable sound".[14] In his review for Uncut, Jason Anderson found that Planetarium successfully synthesizes Dessner and Muhly’s "classical ventures" with Stevens' "adventurous pop songcraft", noting the latter's ability to tackle "a variety of subjects, perspectives and treatments without losing his focus".[13] Consequence of Sound's Kayleigh Hughes was most impressed by the "deeply personal, grounded stories" found in Stevens' lyrics.[15]

Thea Ballard of Pitchfork was more reserved in her praise, describing Planetarium as "sonically luxurious to the point of sometimes sounding bloated (as such big-ticket pop-classical commissions are wont to be)."[10] In his review for The A.V. Club, Josh Modell found that the album lacked focus: "It generally just plays like a wash of ideas without much of a through-line, despite its galaxy-driven conceit."[5]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Bryce Dessner, James McAlister, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan Stevens.

No.TitleLength
1."Neptune"3:04
2."Jupiter"7:10
3."Halley's Comet"0:30
4."Venus"4:42
5."Uranus"6:51
6."Mars"7:08
7."Black Energy"5:25
8."Sun"3:59
9."Tides"0:58
10."Moon"3:42
11."Pluto"4:23
12."Kuiper Belt"2:04
13."Black Hole"0:33
14."Saturn"3:51
15."In the Beginning"1:17
16."Earth"15:10
17."Mercury"5:12
Total length:75:59

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[17] 89
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[18] 117
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[19] 77
French Albums (SNEP)[20] 148
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[21] 82
New Zealand Heatseekers Albums (RMNZ)[22] 5
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[23] 36
Scottish Albums (OCC)[24] 55
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[25] 60
UK Albums (OCC)[26] 92
US Billboard 200[27] 104
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[28] 12
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[29] 5
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[30] 20

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gaca, Anna (March 27, 2017). "New Music: Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister – "Saturn"". Spin. ISSN 0886-3032.
  2. ^ "Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Reviews and Tracks for Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens". Metacritic. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  4. ^ Donelson, Marcy. "Planetarium – Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister". AllMusic. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Modell, Josh (June 9, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens and friends… in space!". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Hutchinson, Kate (June 8, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, James McAlister, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly: Planetarium review – majestic celestial space opera". The Guardian. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  7. ^ Gill, Andy (June 7, 2017). "Album reviews: Katy Perry – Witness, London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, and more". The Independent. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  8. ^ Barnes, Mike (August 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister: Planetarium". Mojo (285): 89.
  9. ^ a b Empire, Kitty (June 11, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister: Planetarium review – masters of the universe". The Observer. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Ballard, Thea (June 13, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens / Nico Muhly / Bryce Dessner / James McAlister: Planetarium". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  11. ^ Mongredien, Phil (August 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister: Planetarium". Q (375): 110.
  12. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (June 9, 2017). "Pop review: Sufjan Stevens, Nico Mulhy [sic], Bryce Dessner, James McAlister: Planetarium". The Times. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Anderson, Jason (July 13, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner & James McAlister – Planetarium". Uncut. Archived from the original on July 13, 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  14. ^ Mathieu, Joseph (June 7, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister: Planetarium". Exclaim!. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  15. ^ Hughes, Kayleigh (June 8, 2017). "Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and James McAlister – Planetarium". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  16. ^ Planeterium. All Music. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  17. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sufjan Stevens - Nico Muhly - Bryce Dessner - James McAlister – Planetarium" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  18. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sufjan Stevens - Nico Muhly - Bryce Dessner - James McAlister – Planetarium" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  19. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Sufjan Stevens - Nico Muhly - Bryce Dessner - James McAlister – Planetarium" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  20. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums – SNEP (Week 24, 2017)". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Sufjan Stevens - Nico Muhly - Bryce Dessner - James McAlister – Planetarium" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  22. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. June 19, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  23. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Sufjan Stevens - Nico Muhly - Bryce Dessner - James McAlister – Planetarium". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  24. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  25. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Sufjan Stevens - Nico Muhly - Bryce Dessner - James McAlister – Planetarium". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  26. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  27. ^ "Sufjan Stevens Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  28. ^ "Sufjan Stevens Chart History (Top Alternative Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  29. ^ "Sufjan Stevens Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  30. ^ "Sufjan Stevens Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2021.