The Ascension by Sufjan Stevens
Another Electronic Experiment By Sufjan
Carrie and who? You must have confused me with someone else.
Sufjan Stevens' latest work does not ease into the cacophonous symphony; it is go go go right away with breathy falsettos, grating electronic whizzing, and anxious rhythms. Another stark departure from his beloved tender folk and orchestral ballads. Like the shockingly complex electronic and heavy industrial hellscapes of The Age of Adz, Sufjan creates a new sound again with synths, drum kits, and electropop. Moody and eccentrically architected, there is a lot to sift through in The Ascension. In truth, the same could be said of his entire catalog. Underneath it all, Sufjan remains the same: despairingly hopeful.
Sufjan demands an intentional listener. (Quality headphones improved my experience on this album notably.) Despite the pop hooks and occasionally sexy beats, this album is not background music. At first blush, the weird semi-melodic, overproduced madness or simplistic electro beats befuddles the wits! "Sufjan! Where is your mandolin?" we cry out. Yet through that befuddlement, the dense, dynamic emotions and musicality and lyricism may begin to be grasped. Here is baroque electronic chamber pop (or whatever this is) as done by no other. I'm sure it'll be a tough sell for most listeners, but a worthy investment.
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