I didn’t give Illinois or Sufjan much of a chance. It had been resting in my iTunes over a year before I got down to listening to it. It took overhearing my friend play it to recognize how amazing it was. This is how I always tend to me with music that’s new to me, for some reason.
Sufjan Stevens is one of the most talented songwriters in music history, ever. His songs are incredibly intricate and complex, yet not overbearingly so – never does he sacrifice a memorable yet unconventional melody for the sake of experimentation. He is a jewel of American music, almost the quintessential American songwriter of our generation. He has done something completely original, something no one else would have thought of. Since then, the master has spawned plenty of imitators.
Sufjan uses unconventional time signatures, chord changes, and melodies, yet as mentioned before, it hardly loses any accessibility. It’s hard to imagine anyone not finding something to like about Sufjan.
Drawing on folk, indie, and perhaps even post-rock and other genres, Sufjan Stevens and Illinoise is some of the most interesting music of the 2000s you’ll hear. I’m tempted to say Sufjan Stevens is un-classifiable. It’s hard to believe that one person could have this much creativity.
Highlights for me are “Jacksonville,” “Chicago,” “Casimir Pulaski Day,” “John Wayne Gacy, Jr,” and “The Predatory Wasp.” I’m leaving out a lot of good songs just so you know.