Raise your hand if you saw this coming, because I sure didn’t. Earlier this month, Sufjan Stevens announced an October/November tour—an announcement that I admittedly didn’t pay much attention to because he’s not really coming anywhere close to my neck of the woods (and I just don’t have much time for concertgoing these days). And what’s more, I’d become a little Sufjan’d out, particularly after the indulgent BQE.
And then Asthmatic Kitty broke the news: a nearly hour-long EP of brand new material that was free for the listening (and that could be had for a nominal fee). The promise of new music from the man was too much to pass up—the old Sufjan fan inside of me dies hard, I guess—and so I hoofed it on over to Bandcamp to check out All Delighted People. And suffice to say, I’m hanging my head in shame, for I should not have let my faith in the man slip. (If that makes me sound like a fanboy, then so be it.)
At first blush, All Delighted People seems like classic Sufjan. It’s sprawling and epic, musically and thematically, but quite poignant and intimate at the same time. However, careful listening will reveal subtle breaks from the Sufjan releases of yore. For starters, the production is thinner in places, even brittle. Sufjan’s inimitable arrangements are compressed and more surface-level, which means the EP sounds more “in your face”, relatively speaking. Which seems apt because musically speaking, this is some of the most adventurous music that Sufjan has put to tape yet.