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Old 08-13-2015, 09:32 PM   #286
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That's probably the last song I would pick from the album as being a rehash. That track sounds more like Hospice or something from the last Grouper record than his older work. It utilizes an ambient/drone backing to add texture to the negative space (as do many other outros on the album), whereas a song like Casimir Pulaski Day or John Wayne Gacy Jr. is crystal clear, quiet and austere. The atmosphere of the album is totally different from his previous works. It's like he added film grain to the picture. For an album with just a few ingredients, that's more than just "pretty new production," it fundamentally impacts the way the songs come across.

And he's still the same man, you know. Just one guy. He's going to have similar deliveries and subjects. But hell, even the subjects are different, or at least the perspective. There's a newfound cynicism and doubt in a track like No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross and the character portraits have fresh new protagonists. Eugene is so sweet, funny and personal.

Most importantly: this is the only Sufjan album without filler. Every song is great and it wastes no time. Even a shorter record like Seven Swans has an indulgent misstep or two. He's a man on a mission with C&L. To me, that's new territory. I've always seen Illinois as an impressive but missed opportunity at 70+ minutes. It takes maturity to pare things back to the essentials.
I do think you are completely missing what I said in that I acknowledge the music is new. What I have been trying to say all along about my "dislike" (it's not even a dislike it's just what keeps the album out of my top ten) is that the lyrical content feels a tad stale coming from him, even though I like the songs a lot. The music is very good, and I like it a lot. I mean, I can't change how I feel on this subject. Every time I hear Fourth of July, all I hear is Casimir Pulaski Day... Hell they're even both about death and holidays, I just noticed.

But to your last paragraph, I absolutely agree and would likely said this is easily my favourite album of his. Shadow of the Cross an easy favorite, as well. I do very much enjoy hearing this, I wish I could make it as clear as possible that I have no problem with the album, I just find it a tad absurd that it's being so heavily praised for how fresh it is when such a significant portion (for him being the man and songwriter that his is) is kinda old hat at this point.

I'd still give the album like an 8.5.
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Old 08-13-2015, 09:49 PM   #287
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Lyrically I think Carrie & Lowell stands head and shoulders above the rest of his work, I think. It's a deeply mature record. Early Sufjan was a lot more optimistic, with those very strong religious overtones (it's easy to forget how much skepticism it faced because of its religious nature). In Carrie & Lowell, there are few instances of that optimism and, I feel, more self-doubt (even though it's also a very forgiving record in relation to his mother).
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:05 PM   #288
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That's probably the last song I would pick from the album as being a rehash. That track sounds more like Hospice or something from the last Grouper record than his older work. It utilizes an ambient/drone backing to add texture to the negative space (as do many other outros on the album), whereas a song like Casimir Pulaski Day or John Wayne Gacy Jr. is crystal clear, quiet and austere. The atmosphere of the album is totally different from his previous works. It's like he added film grain to the picture. For an album with just a few ingredients, that's more than just "pretty new production," it fundamentally impacts the way the songs come across.

And he's still the same man, you know. Just one guy. He's going to have similar deliveries and subjects. But hell, even the subjects are different, or at least the perspective. There's a newfound cynicism and doubt in a track like No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross and the character portraits have fresh new protagonists. Eugene is so sweet, funny and personal.

Most importantly: this is the only Sufjan album without filler. Every song is great and it wastes no time. Even a shorter record like Seven Swans has an indulgent misstep or two. He's a man on a mission with C&L. To me, that's new territory. I've always seen Illinois as an impressive but missed opportunity at 70+ minutes. It takes maturity to pare things back to the essentials.
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Lyrically I think Carrie & Lowell stands head and shoulders above the rest of his work, I think. It's a deeply mature record. Early Sufjan was a lot more optimistic, with those very strong religious overtones (it's easy to forget how much skepticism it faced because of its religious nature). In Carrie & Lowell, there are few instances of that optimism and, I feel, more self-doubt (even though it's also a very forgiving record in relation to his mother).
Nothing more to add. I love all of this.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:29 PM   #289
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Yeah, not to pile on Bono212 here, but the lyrics of C&L pull off the very rare feat of being emotionally naked without becoming cartoonish or mawkish, if that makes sense. He could so easily have come across as sympathy-mongering, but instead he makes his own ordeal into something so very relatable: the merging of the personal and the universal on this album is astounding. As much as I love Pulaski Day, that song is still a vignette rather than a resounding statement of the likes found on C&L.

I'm starting to think C&L is an all-timer; probably the 2nd best album of the decade so far in my estimation.
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:19 AM   #290
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I would pay an exorbitant amount of money for a live DVD of this tour. Months on, I'm still reminiscing about Blue Bucket of Gold.
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Old 08-14-2015, 01:03 PM   #291
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Yeah, not to pile on Bono212 here, but the lyrics of C&L pull off the very rare feat of being emotionally naked without becoming cartoonish or mawkish, if that makes sense. He could so easily have come across as sympathy-mongering, but instead he makes his own ordeal into something so very relatable: the merging of the personal and the universal on this album is astounding. As much as I love Pulaski Day, that song is still a vignette rather than a resounding statement of the likes found on C&L.

I'm starting to think C&L is an all-timer; probably the 2nd best album of the decade so far in my estimation.


I just told a friend that C&L is easily one of my favorites of the last decade.

Thank you to you more articulate people for helping me understand exactly why I love it so much.
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Old 08-19-2015, 09:39 AM   #292
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So can we have a discussion about Age of Adz please? I finally listened to it. I did actually download it illegally when it first came out but hated it and was like no Suffie is not the man for me. But now my tastes have grown and I've become a huge fan it was time to buy properly and revisit.

It's a really interesting record. At times I think there's some really great, astonishing moments; at others it sounds like he's deliberately making a completely impenetrable record, testing the limits of audience (I know a few big Sufjan fans who don't care for this album). It's easy to see why Futile Devices is in the current setlist as it's the most conventional track on the album and fits in well with the C&L material. Too Much is where it starts to get weird and then never lets up. I quite liked this song and the title track has some real nice parts too. I really like his voice on this album too - if there's one complaint (so minor it's insignificant) it's that his voice veers a little too closely to Ben Gibbard et al at times, but it doesn't get quite as emo-y on this album.

Now That I'm Older sounds like a Disney tune on a ton of acid. Vesuvius is real nice for the most part. Tracks like I Walked, I Want to Be Well... they're gonna take a few more spins. To my ears the kinda just sounded like all the Animal Collective songs I've hated and wondered how anyone could enjoy, weirdness for weirdness' sake. But hey, I once said OK Computer was noise for noise's sake, and now it's an all-time favourite, so maybe I should just shut the fuck up.

Then we come to Impossible Soul. I can't really remember it all. Felt like about six or seven songs pasted together end-on-end. I did like it though. The "it's a long life / boy we can do much more together / it's not so impossible" part is fucking glorious.

Since the album doesn't come with lyrics and his voice is processed as fuck and buried under a pile of electronic squelches, I couldn't really make out much of what the album was about, lyrically. So some help there would be good.

What's everyone else think?
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Old 08-19-2015, 10:21 AM   #293
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I'm a big fan of Age of Adz. It probably took me a few listens to fully appreciate it when it came out, but I love it now. With hindsight, it feels like a natural record for Sufjan, even though it's a huge surprise. The detailed orchestration from his earlier work carries over, but now relies more on electronic instruments and beats. In a way, it's where you can clearly identify the rupture with the innocence of his earlier work. I think it reflected some of the anxiety he was dealing with back in the day (read the Pitchfork interview). It's inspired by Royal Robertson, a sort of sci-fi artist that was suffered from schizophrenia, so you can also see some of the autobiographical interests there, even if indirect. In sum, I don't think Sufjan goes deep down and releases Carrie & Lowell without the Age of Adz (and All Delighted People) period.

That tour was great, too. Very over the top. Almost a ZooTV-type of moment for Sufjan (and he always felt out of character on stage too, probably on purpose). And yes, Impossible Soul is amazing. It was even better live that tour.

I Want to Be Well is a favorite mine. The "I'm not fucking around" section at the end is the high point of the album, along with the "it's a long life" part in Impossible Soul that you pointed out.
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Old 08-19-2015, 10:41 AM   #294
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I Want to Be Well is a favorite mine. The "I'm not fucking around" section at the end is the high point of the album, along with the "it's a long life" part in Impossible Soul that you pointed out.
The last two songs are both fantastic yes with these parts the highlights. My favorite is Vesuvius though. It has such a gorgeous melody.

I'm also a big Age of Adz fan as I've said on numerous occasions. I revisit it more than Illinois. Now That I'm Older is the only song I don't like.
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Old 08-19-2015, 05:17 PM   #295
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I would have to listen to the album again to make a full judgment on it. It's been a while. Right now I consider it the weakest of everything going back to Michigan. Haven't heard anything before that. Interesting production, rather forgettable material.
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Old 08-19-2015, 10:23 PM   #296
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I even like Now That I'm Older. I think the whole record is weirdly underrated. It may have aged better for me than Illinoise and Michigan, but I need to give it a fresh listen before I make that (somewhat shocking) statement.
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Old 08-20-2015, 10:15 AM   #297
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Thanks for sharing that interview, gump. There are so many interesting quotes in it. Just another reason to add to my ever-growing list of why I love this man. How refreshing to hear quotes from a musician that don't mince words, that don't take up an entire paragraph saying absolutely nothing at all. I like that he's totally unapologetic about Age of Adz, and how he pushed himself (like the dancing etc) on the tour as much as he was pushing the audience. I really admire that - it's very rare that you see an artist revelling in that freedom.

But I contrast it with this interview - True Myth: A Conversation With Sufjan Stevens | Pitchfork - it's really interesting because the one you posted makes it seem like he was going to go on pushing with this almost atonal method, dropping EPs like All Delighted People constantly. But we've ended up with a five-year wait. I guess in 2010 he wasn't expecting a death to hit him so hard? He said it was a short illness. I recommend reading the interview I've just posted, it's really great. He still has that I'll-do-what-I-want attitude, but because of the death of his mother C&L was, just like Adz at the time, a record he had to make, a path he had to go down.

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In the moment, I was stoic and phlegmatic and practical, but in the months following I was manic and frantic and disparaging and angry. They always talk about the science of bereavement, and how there is a measurable pattern and cycle of grief, but my experience was lacking in any kind of natural trajectory. It felt really sporadic and convoluted. I would have a period of rigorous, emotionless work, and then I would be struck by deep sadness triggered by something really mundane, like a dead pigeon on the subway track. Or my niece would point out polka-dotted tights at the playground, and I would suffer some kind of cosmic anguish in public. It's weird.
Extremely fascinating reading. And it gave me a deeper appreciation for the reasons people like joyful and imps have really connected with this record

I'm sorry to bang on. But I've just fallen so hard for Sufjan.

IT'S A LONG LIFE
BETTER PINCH YOURSELF
GET YOUR FACE TOGETHER
BETTER STAND UP STRAIGHT
BOYYYY WE CAN DO MUCH MORE TOGETHER

IT'S NOT SO IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-20-2015, 02:05 PM   #298
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But I contrast it with this interview - True Myth: A Conversation With Sufjan Stevens | Pitchfork - i

I completely relate to what he says about grief. About three months after my mom died, not one but two "friends" said to me something along the lines of, "Oh well, at least that's all behind you now." I was too numb to respond but inside I was thinking, "Must.stay.away.from.you." It's an inexplicable process. Five years later and I still cannot even bear it when someone says mean things about their mother.
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Old 08-21-2015, 01:11 AM   #299
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Who's keen for a Sufjie survivor after the Stones? It'll be super quick. Yes? Good.
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Old 08-21-2015, 02:26 AM   #300
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Are you high?
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