Sufjan Stevens was never the most straightforward of artists was he? A quick look through his discography lists a Christmas album, an album inspired by the Brooklyn-Queens expressway, his infamous fifty-states project (now just a publicity stunt - he said so himself!) and almost anything else you can wrap your head around. He also has that rare ability to be aesthetically broad and equally minimalistic at the same time... Euphoric and immediate. It's stunning.
Despite becoming used to getting exactly what you didn't expect from Sufjan, the indie/folk/alternative world still stopped dead in it's tracks when the he released a new EP - All Delighted People, out of nowhere last week. Just $5 and available via Sufjan's bandcamp page (http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/), the EP itself is, in reality, the first real release we've had from Sufjan since 2005's Illinois.
It's good to see that the five years working on symphonic odes to motorways, Christmas songs, etc. haven't dampened Sufjan's enthusiasm for what drew us in in the first place. The title track (one of two versions - the original is better than the classic rock I think...) would fit right in with Stevens' fifty-states records - a roaring symphony is belittled by Sufjan's very familiar voice.
It's like an old friend has finally come home after a long trip away. And man did we miss them...
Aside from the opener (the aforementioned titular number: an eleven and a half minute track that finishes with a kids choir and strings galore), Heirloom stands out as a special number. More lo-fi, more immediate... These tracks are chalk and cheese. And they both display Sufjan's strengths so well.
Alas, Sufjan's work has often fallen into the track of being too ambitious and this makes that mistake too. It is nice to see Stevens' experimenting a little with beats and skips - these could certainly be used well in future projects. However, I feel that the track Arnika in particular is weak and just sees the EP finishing on a slight downer.
All Delighted People EP: 8.0/10. Some great numbers, though it peters out a little.
And following on from this release comes the news that Sufjan is to release his latest album this coming October. Entitled The Age of Adz (Adz being pronounced "odds" apparently), it'll be released on Asthmatic Kitty and the tracklisting is as follows:
01 Futile Devices
02 Too Much
03 Age of Adz
04 I Walked
05 Now That I'm Older
06 Get Real Get Right
07 Bad Communication
09 All for Myself
10 I Want To Be Well
11 Impossible Soul
On the back of All Delighted People, this could be a very special record indeed. We all know what he's capable of when he puts his mind to it...
- Cork, Ireland
- An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.