For the Record: 2 by Sufjan Stevens

Nephew2 is a big fan of Sufjan Stevens. I’m guessing — he keeps sending me his stuff to listen to. I like some of it. His Christmas music is among my favorite holiday releases. A lot of it is too odd, or too long, or too repetitious for me. But he usually pulls out a couple of good songs per release, so I keep listening.

All Delighted People is an EP that came out last summer. An EP is supposed to be shorter than your standard album, but this thing clocks in at almost an hour, so I’m not sure what’s EP about it. It only has 8 songs, so maybe that’s part of it. Of course, some of them are ridiculously long.

I wasn’t too taken with this disc. Like I mentioned, some of the songs go on and on — “”Djohariah” is a 17-minute, mostly instrumental piece that I got tired of long before Sufjan finally shows up on vocals, like 15 minutes later. The title track is also bloated, and comes it two versions — one 11 minutes, one 8.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against long songs if you’ve got something there to justify it. Jim Steinman knows how to write long, epic songs.

The album’s saving grace is “Heirloom,” a lovely, simple song that is coincidentally the shortest song on the album (a measly 2:55). I like Sufjan best when he cuts out all the flourishes and layered instrumentation and just, you know, sings a song. (See also: “For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti,””Decatur, or Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!” or “Casimir Pulaski Day.”)

Sufjan + banjo = Best of Sufjan.

The Age of Adz came out in October of last year and feels more like a traditional Sufjan Stevens album. My favorite song here is “Too Much,” and I’m not sure why, as it showcases a lot of what I don’t like about Sufjan — it runs on too long, repeats itself too much and layers on music and sound effects until it just becomes a cacophony. But the chorus is catchy.

The rest of the album is fine. It lacks those simple songs that I prefer.

As long as I’m going hammering home song lengths in this post, I guess I should mention “Impossible Soul,” the 25-minute long opus that closes out the disc. To be honest, I didn’t realize it was that long. I generally listen to Sufjan as background music and you don’t notice a song going on and on when you’re not paying close attention. Once I did pay attention, it’s fine but nothing special. Like pretty much the whole album.

Someone should really put together a Best of Sufjan Stevens album. And I should get to decide what goes on it.


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