Monday, December 28, 2009

Albums Of The Decade : 5 - Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)

His supposed mission to write an individual album for each of the 52 states may have been abandoned, but Illinois stands as testament to Stevens’ singular talent and vision. For all the musical and thematic twists and turns of this epic work, it all hangs together and works perfectly, from the chilling ‘John Wayne Gacy, Jr’ to the tuneful sweep of ‘Chicago’, or from the grief-stricken, banjo-led elegy ‘Casimir Pulaski Day’ to the sinister horror-movie-theme of ‘They Are Night Zombies!!!...’. Folk may have been the dominant idiom that Stevens kept returning to and putting his own unmistakeable twist on, but at any given moment he was liable to mix things up, be it with technicolour, choir-backed pop-rock, evocative drones or exuberant big-band arrangements. It’s an album so stunning in scope that the man himself seems unsure of where to go to next.

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