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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 107 - 06/22/05

Sufjan Stevens
Come on feel the Illinoise
Asthmatic Kitty/Sounds Familyre

Yes, a new Sufjan album! I'm a bigtime fan. The amusingly entitled Come on feel the Illinoise is his second record in the 50 state project cycle which started with Michigan, and once more we're exposed to multi-multi instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens' brilliance. Not so much noise, more feel good.

Again we're tken insode Sufjan Stevens world of music, his many moods and colors of mind. And the state of mind of the state of Illinois. Illinoise is massive, over 75 minutes long. Maybe too long, too much musical inout in one go. I recommend taking breaks during the album (pity I've got the CD, the vinyl is a double album - with natural breaks). Nevertheless it's a goood over of fascinating, catchy and touching songs. From the careful starter "Concerning the UFO Sighting near Highland, Illinois" (yes, long titles as well). And we're introduced to some of the famous Illinoisians, such as author-poet Carl Sandburg and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr - the clown that killed. The ghost of the former visits Sufjan in a dream in the last part of the monumental, two-parted title track. The ghost of the latter lurks around in song four, "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.", which is one of the albun's definite highlites. "During a three-year-period, Gacy went on to viciously torture, rape and murder more than thirty young men, who would later be discovered under the floorboards of his home and in the local river" (source: www.crimelibrary.com). Stevens closing lyrics goes: "And in my best behavior, I am really just like him, Look beneath the floorboards, For the secrets I have hid". Twisted, man.

"Chicago" is another gem being an airy pop song of love and devotion, loss and despair. Inbetween the regular songs throughout the album there are some instrumental bits just to loosen up it seems. Pieces put in as intermissions, or sort of non-commercial breaks. "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" is Stevens' most rock song ever. But even when it rocks there are the trademark vocal harmonies, trumpets, strings and other melodic garnish that lifts the arrangements of the songs to heavenly spheres. "The Predatory Wasp od the Palisades is Out To Get Us!" brings a more folky feel but yet holding orchestrated spices bringing my thoughts (as in several songs) towards the bubbly pop of the Polyphonic Spree. "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors! They Have Come Back From the Dead! Ahhhh!" (those titles...) is even a bit funky, Lambchop-meets-Polyphonic Spree-style. It's followed by the instrumental repetition called "Let's hear that string part again, because I don't think they heard it all the way out in Bushnell". Joker.

The ghostly beautiful piano drivern "The Seers Tower" is another peak of the album. The porgressive pop of "The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders" close the vocal escapades of the album, amking me a bit dizzy with its circling melody, singing, and arrangement, befor it calms a bit within its second half. It's followed by to ending instrumentals, the latter called "Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my sandals as I run". Does it make sense or what? Wild imagitive mind this Mr. Stevens.

A real longplayer, but with few exceptions extremely pleasing. It's better than Michigan, and more extrovert than his former regular album, Seven Swans. 48 states to go!

Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Sufjan Stevens articles/reviews: All Delighted People EP, Blue Bucket of Gold (remix), Carrie & Lowell, Greetings From Michigan - The Great Lake State, No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross, Seven Swans, Silver & Gold, The Age of Adz, The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from Illinois Album, The BQE.

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