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Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise

Never have I been so sure I would enjoy an album as I was when I purchased this offering from Sufjan Stevens. I’d already heard and enjoyed one of his songs in Evlkeith’s festive fifty a couple of years ago and the whole concept of Sufjan is so camp acoustic, quirky folk and unusual instrumentation that I couldn’t possibly dislike it. Or could I…

It’s far from a terrible album, but I just can’t engage with it. It’s like all the worst self indulgent bits of Bright Eyes mixed with none of passion of Neutral Milk Hotel and without the melodies of Elliot Smith. It’s almost a parody of the camp-acoustic gene and with twenty-two tracks it’s a war of attrition to wade through.

The horns, flutes and banjos are all agreeable enough, the reedy, soft vocals are not offensive and the lyrics are quirky and witty. However there’s an inverse synergy to this collection that leaves you feeling empty and cold. It’s a huge disappointment all round, but I doubt Sufjan will lose any sleep. It’s a struggle to pick a favourite track, but 'Casimir Pulaski Day' is at least low key and mellow and the ‘Seer’s Tower’ is fairly stark and moderately haunting.

Maybe I’m missing something, but Sufjan is not joining the Into the Valley gang. Perhaps that’s a positive thing for him as he may become successful.   


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