Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
on 21 August 2005
What an amazing album. I've listened with interest to Sufjan's previous albums, all of which have moments of outstanding beauty, but 'Illinoise' represents the full flowering (to date) of his musical genius. The Amazon review gives a good indication of the influences on this album but still doesn't prepare you for the sheer musical breadth and daring of this joyous work. Despite the cornucopia of musical styles from jazz to show-tunes to acoustic folk and electricified alt.country, plus dipping his toe into the serial rhythms of Reichian minimalism, the sound is extremely coherent and wholly original to Stevens.
His skill as an arranger can be fully appreciated on the title track and 'Chicago' and 'They Are Night Zombies'; whilst his ability to pen beautiful ballads is in full affect on the haunting 'John Wayne Gacy Jr.' which pulls off the amazing feat of recounting the life of a serial killer while at the same time breaking your heart!
Apart from the odd excursion into acoustic melancholy, the general mood of the album is up-lifting, summed up in the line, "We celebrate our sense of each other" in 'The Man Of Metropolis', which expresses nicely the positive humanism which pervades the spirit of Steven's writing.
So far, each of Sufjan Steven's albums has represented a progression, a next step in the realisation of his talent. It's a daunting thought that his next album could be even better than this. Personally I can't wait to find out!