The Ascension Image
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critic Reviews What's this?

User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 57 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Summary: The eighth full-length solo studio release is the indie artist's first in five years.
Buy On
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. 100
    I was rendered wonderfully weightless by a journey that delivered whole galaxies of nuance in a universal context. Trust me: the force is strong in this one.
  2. 91
    The Ascension is one of Sufjan Stevens’ grandest, most ambitious works yet.
  3. Oct 6, 2020
    85
    The Ascension harks back to the heavy electronics of 2010’s Age of Adz but with adroit focus on the themes of existential dread and the quest for meaning with a bounty of angry yet hopeful songs that satisfy melodically and metaphysically.
  4. Sep 24, 2020
    80
    With an 80-minute runtime, The Ascension feels overwhelming in its second act. ... But worried as it is, The Ascension isn’t without joy.
  5. Sep 24, 2020
    75
    A bloated and often beautiful portrait of political and emotional anxiety that longs for nothing more than to break away from the systems that brought us to this current moment.
  6. Sep 25, 2020
    70
    The Ascension is, by design, kind of a drag: a dark and emotionally distant mood piece whose lyrics rarely touch on the specifics necessary to anchor the music, and whose music is rarely exciting enough to elevate his words. ... The Ascension fares best when Stevens looks inward.
  7. Sep 28, 2020
    50
    With few exceptions, Ascension is channeled into one energy level, despite the variety of sounds. It’s busy lethargy: too hive-like to be soothing, too sedated to be invigorating.

See all 25 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 2 out of 14
  1. Oct 4, 2020
    10
    I was expecting to be a little underwhelmed after the reviews but after multiple listens I can assure this is top Sufjan. It's very long butI was expecting to be a little underwhelmed after the reviews but after multiple listens I can assure this is top Sufjan. It's very long but it never loses time, from the beginning with the best opening track in a Sufjan record, Make Me an Offer I Can Not Refuse to America, the record is full of intricate sounds and depressing/hopefull beautiful lyrics. Expand
  2. Sep 25, 2020
    10
    Sufjan has made a banger once again and I am happy for it once again in five years.
  3. Oct 4, 2020
    10
    Sufjan proves time and again that he deserves his place amongst the musical greats, and The Ascension is the perfect solo project follow-up toSufjan proves time and again that he deserves his place amongst the musical greats, and The Ascension is the perfect solo project follow-up to his poignant, vulnerable masterpiece Carrie and Lowell. Touches of humanity dabbled throughout a digital fever dream remind listeners of the familiar charm of a Sufjan album with new horizons. Expand
  4. Sep 25, 2020
    10
    yesss he did it again
    ativan is my favorite he made for me album of the year
  5. Sep 25, 2020
    10
    Taking cues from Bjork and Beck, Sufjan Stevens delivers this year’s Ghosteen - a haunting, mournful, religious, orchestral, stunning,Taking cues from Bjork and Beck, Sufjan Stevens delivers this year’s Ghosteen - a haunting, mournful, religious, orchestral, stunning, operatic masterpiece. Equally dreamlike and beautifully unnerving, it echoes Stevens’ memorable work from Call Me By Your Name - glimmering New Wave sounds surrounded by ambient baroque-pop and soft electronica. Expand
  6. Sep 27, 2020
    9
    In the words of Jeremy Clarkson “it’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”
  7. Sep 27, 2020
    2
    I’ll start this off with a positive note: I’m very glad that Sufjan is trying something new. I do love his older material, but all of hisI’ll start this off with a positive note: I’m very glad that Sufjan is trying something new. I do love his older material, but all of his music in the last decade had kind of converged on the same sound. It was time to change things up.

    I think there are good ideas here. It does feel like there could be a great album buried somewhere under here, but the way it is presented just isn’t tasteful.

    Prior to this release, a Sufjan album in 2020 felt like an unbelievable dream. But upon the release of all the singles, I started to lose hope. America was too long for what it was. Sugar is boring. Video game was silly and kind of terrible. And while these singles weren’t great, they weren’t terrible either. And nothing really prepared me for the deep cuts here.

    The deep cuts are what just absolutely ruin this album. Many of them are extremely boring and go absolutely nowhere. And the other half are loaded with grating and annoying electronics. Die Happy, Ursa Major, and Gilgamesh can all evoke a headache upon listening. Loud, distasteful, and abrasive electronics and sounds plague these songs, recalling something a lot like Danse Manatee from Animal Collective. And unfortunately, just about every song falls to either one of these problems. I have no desire to revisit this album.

    I think that Sufjan could make a great album out of these ideas and sounds, but in the case of a trial and error, this is an error. I hope the next album is better, because this is one of the biggest disappointments I can think of in recent memory.
    Expand

See all 14 User Reviews