Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#16 Album Of 2010: All Delighted People EP - Sufjan Stevens

All Delighted People EP

Sufjan Stevens
Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Original SCQ Review

That isn’t The Age Of Adz’ artwork looming above and, no, it isn’t a mistake. At least I don’t think it is; as someone who continually supports his favourite artists to branch out into the great unknown and take chances with their artistic identity, I instinctively worried I’d shortchanged Stevens’ electronic-addled October release. That isn’t the case, though.

All Delighted People EP would have various factors working against its entry into a year-end list as heavily edited as Skeleton Crew Quarterly’s if it hadn’t been composed by Sufjan Stevens. Sure, its EP status erroneously quells the expectation of a real statement – even if it’s an hour long - and it includes two versions of its title track, but Stevens imparts more substance into this matinee release than all of The Age Of Adz’ flashing-bulbs combined. Venturing toward the extremes of both songwriting poles, Stevens lays his most epic (‘All Delighted People’) and restrained (‘The Owl and the Tanager’) tracks together, the adventurous, electro-tinged ‘From the Mouth of Gabriel’ nestled next to ‘Heirloom’’s familiar folk.

Such disconnected variety, coupled with the way he dropped All Delighted People EP off at the internet’s doorstep that sunny Friday in August, suggests a middle-of-the-road release, and it’s easy to hear Stevens reaching out in the dark for new territory to conquer. As more than just a precursor for Age Of Adz’ new path, though, All Delighted People’s tracks hang together well, unbalanced at first but merging into an emotional song-cycle.

It’s good that Sufjan made The Age Of Adz; whether it succeeded or not (and oh it has), the left-turn will benefit his career. But All Delighted People EP is better.

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