Sleep Well Beast

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Sleep Well Beast
Sleep Well Beast.jpg
Studio album by The National
Released September 8, 2017
Studio
Genre Indie rock[1]
Length 57:37
Label 4AD
Producer
The National chronology
Trouble Will Find Me
(2013)Trouble Will Find Me2013
Sleep Well Beast
(2017)
Singles from Sleep Well Beast
  1. "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness"
    Released: May 11, 2017 (radio)
  2. "Guilty Party"
    Released: June 28, 2017
  3. "Carin at the Liquor Store"
    Released: August 8, 2017
  4. "Day I Die"
    Released: August 29, 2017
  5. "I’ll Still Destroy You"
    Released: October 23, 2017

Sleep Well Beast is the seventh studio album by American indie rock band The National, released on September 8, 2017 through 4AD.[2] The album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album at the 60th Grammy Awards.

Promotion[edit]

On May 9, and May 10, 2017, the National's Twitter page tweeted out two short audio teasers, one from the title track and the other from the lead single, "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness."

Singles[edit]

The first single from the album, "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness," was released on May 11, 2017, alongside the album's announcement.[3] The second single, "Guilty Party," was released on June 28, 2017.[4] A third single, "Carin at the Liquor Store," was released on August 8, 2017, followed by the fourth, "Day I Die," on August 29. The fifth single, "I'll Still Destroy You" was released on the October 23, 2017.

Packaging and marketing[edit]

The artwork for Sleep Well Beast consists of a black and white photograph, shot by Graham MacIndoe, of the side of a barn in Hudson Valley, New York bought by guitarist Aaron Dessner dating back to the 18th century, rebuilt as the album's recording studio; MacIndoe also took numerous photographs of the band during recording sessions for the album inserts.[5][6] Andrea Trabucco-Campos and Elaynna Blaser-Gould, with partner Luke Hayman, of the British design firm Pentagram served as the art directors for the album's packaging.[7]

Unusually, Pentagram also created the branding and identity for Sleep Well Beast and the band, complete with a corporate standards manual, alongside a marketing campaign to highlight and play on the album's themes of politics, society and propaganda as "a bit of a joke." The album and branding use the grotesque-based font Maison with a predominantly blue and white-based color palette.[6] From the cover, the barn was condensed into a pentagon used as the branding's logo, subdivided into two squares and triangles implemented within the design and branding, even in the artwork itself, as an allusion to corporate branding.[8]

The marketing campaign was executed through multiple ways. The band's label, 4AD, partnered with design company Diabolical to create a mural for the album in Shoreditch, London, containing a lyric from "Day I Die".[9] Four music videos – "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness", "Guilty Party", "Carin at the Liquor Store" and "Day I Die" – were directed by Casey Reas prior to the album's release, included in video billboard advertisements released in Times Square, London and Copenhagen. Band merchandise included the branding for the album, specifically the pentagon logo.[8][10]

Elyanna Blaser-Gould, Luke Hayman, and Andrew Trabucco-Campos were nominated for Best Recording Package at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.[11][12]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic85/100[13]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[14]
The A.V. ClubA[15]
The Guardian4/5 stars[16]
The Independent5/5 stars[17]
Mojo4/5 stars[18]
NME4/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork8.0/10[20]
Q4/5 stars[21]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[22]
ViceA−[23]

Sleep Well Beast received highly positive reviews from music critics. On Metacritic, which assigns an average score out of 100 to reviews and ratings from mainstream music critics, the album received an average score of 85 based on 35 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".

In The Guardian, Kitty Empire described Sleep Well Beast as an exponent of "the tension created by the hyper-musical brother duos, pacing the cage of what 'rock band' means with increased vigour. It often adds up to a subtle, grown-up take that still leaves space for drama."[16]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
NME NME's Albums of the Year 2017
13
RIOT Mag RIOT's Albums Of The Year 2017
3
Rough Trade Albums of the Year
14
Stereogum 50 Best Albums of 2017
32
Vinyl Me, Please The 30 Best Albums of 2017
10
Sputnikmusic Top 50 Albums of 2017
1
We All Want Someone to Shout For Best Albums of 2017
1
[30]
GRAMMYs Winner: Best Alternative Album

Nominated: Best Recording Package

n/a
[12]
Diffuser Top 25 Albums of 2017
2
[31]
Yahoo Top 10 Albums of 2017
2
[32]
The Sunday Times 100 Best Albums of 2017
5
[33]
Under The Radar Top 100 Albums of 2017
7
[34]
UNCUT 75 Best Albums of 2017
7
[35]
Newsweek Best Albums of 2017
9
[36]
Q 50 Best Albums of 2017
10
[37]
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2017
11
[38]
MOJO Top 50 Albums of 2017
12
[39]
Uproxx 50 Best Albums of 2017
13
[40]
USA Today 10 Favorite Albums of 2017
n/a
[41]
American Songwriter Top 25 Albums of 2017
6
[42]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics and melodies written by Matt Berninger and Carin Besser; all music composed by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner; except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."Nobody Else Will Be There"4:39
2."Day I Die" (composed by The National)4:31
3."Walk It Back" (includes an excerpt from the article "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush" by Ron Suskind, first published in The New York Times[43])5:59
4."The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness"3:56
5."Born to Beg"4:22
6."Turtleneck"3:00
7."Empire Line"5:23
8."I'll Still Destroy You"5:15
9."Guilty Party"5:38
10."Carin at the Liquor Store"3:33
11."Dark Side of the Gym"4:50
12."Sleep Well Beast"6:31
Total length:57:32

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Orchestral session
  2. ^ Vocal sessions
  3. ^ a b c Additional sessions
  4. ^ Orchestration and co-production on all tracks
  5. ^ Co-production on tracks 4, 6, 9
  6. ^ Additional production on tracks 2, 4

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Wicks, Amanda (11 May 2017). "The National Detail New Album Sleep Well Beast". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved 11 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "The National unveil new single 'The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness' & announce 2017 UK tour". NME. 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  4. ^ 9:05 AM ET (2017-06-29). "Hear The National's New Song, 'Guilty Party' : All Songs Considered". NPR. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  5. ^ "The Hudson valley oasis where The National recorded their new album". CBS News. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2018. 
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  7. ^ "The National — Story". Pentagram. Retrieved 10 February 2018. 
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  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Sleep Well Beast – The National". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2017. 
  15. ^ Modell, Josh (September 6, 2017). "The National doesn't rest on the excellent Sleep Well Beast". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 15, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Empire, Kitty (September 10, 2017). "The National: Sleep Well Beast review – a study in midlife angst". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved September 10, 2017. 
  17. ^ Hooton, Christopher (August 29, 2017). "The National's new album review: Sleep Well Beast paints a painful break-up so that you might avoid one". The Independent. Retrieved September 10, 2017. 
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