Album Review: Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension

Sufjan Stevens has released his new album The Ascension. Known for slow, personal and often sad indie folk, Stevens has developed a strong following with critics and a group of fans who latch onto his work pretty religiously. What they will get with The Ascension is something that is a bit different from the past.

His music has evolved in unique ways, often after he would edge towards mainstream success with a record that verged on pop, he would diverge into a slower folk record or move towards his Christian faith. His aversion to the spotlight kept his music from staying the same and allowed him to evolve and that is what has happened with The Ascension. Following the crucially acclaimed Carrie and Lowell, a harrowing and anguished exploration of sadness and grief following the death of his mother, he has gone electronic with The Ascension.

It isn’t full on EDM; the LP leans on electronic elements to accompany a new sort of anguish and disgust – this time at the United States. He takes a broader look at not just the current state of the country, but the systemic issues of the country going back hundreds of years. That being said, many of the songs have a beautiful shine to them with the sheen of prophet synths that lay the foundation for this album.

It is a long album that demands a full listen from start to finish, so make sure you set aside the time. The finale “America” punctuates the thesis about the US, so make sure you get all of the way to the end. Get your copy of the LP here.