Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Not for me unfortunately
on 5 June 2012
I'm surprised by the positive reviews expressed regarding this album. I want so very much to 'like' this album even if not 'love' it like I do (some of) his previous efforts. I have a lot of respect for artists willing to try things radically different from their previous releases - after the incredible 'Illinois' album I'm sure many people (myself included) expected more of the same (or similar). The fact that this album is so completely different is a testament to the artists creative personality and attitude towards releasing music.
Unfortunately I simply cannot say that the song writing is up to the same high standards that I've come to expect. What's more it is plagued by just about every single computerised effect known to man throughout about 80% of the album. The album closer (...a 25 minute long closer at that) showcases the varied styles that Mr Stevens has used. The lowest point in the whole album is when suddenly at around the 9 minute mark of the album closer his beautiful singing voice it utterly destroyed by auto-tune effects normally associated with modern R&B acts - It sounds completely out of place and at which point I try and resist the urge to fast-forward. I wish I could say it is just one song, but aside from the short opening track every track has clicks, bleeps, and...just noise throughout - I cannot find the name for all the effects he uses but it utterly distracts me from hearing the melody that other reviewers seem to hear. Its a shame because ' I walked' and 'Vesuvius' are both very good tracks and 'I walked' in-particular is actually a fantastic track which always leaves me wishing the whole album could've been this way.
Oh well, reviews are subjective based largely on musical taste - I can appreciate electronica even if I rarely listen to it so perhaps that is why I cannot get into this album. If you want to hear what Sufjan Stevens can really achieve when mixing folk and electronica listen to 'Star of Wonder' from his Christmas Album or 'You are the blood' from the compilation album 'Dark was the Night'. If you liked his very early albums 'A Sun Came' and 'Enjoy Your Rabbit' (I did not), you will probably find much to like here. If your only venture into Stevens' work is 'Illinois' etc then approach with caution, the trademark 'Stevens' sound is still there...just hidden...