Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition) (Asthmatic Kitty) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Sufjan Stevens

Illinois (Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition)

Asthmatic Kitty

Apr 18, 2016 Sufjan Stevens Bookmark and Share

Ten years have passed since Sufjan Stevens released Illinois, a concept album rooted in themes surrounding the U.S. state of the same name, supposedly his second instalment in a series of such records that would explore each state. It turns out that Stevens never actually intended to take on such an endeavour, but Illinois alone has all the heart, intelligence, emotion, creativity, and vehemence of every state in the land.

Now reissued for a fittingly eccentric 10th anniversary edition including a star-shaped 12-inch of an early incarnation of “Chicago” and an appearance from Marvel character Blue Marvel on the record’s artwork, Illinois still sounds light years ahead of its time. Rich with oddball, lengthy track titles and song structures as awkward as their names, it’s a record steeped in imagination.

The expertly-crafted key arrangements that lace the record so cleverly sound as innovative and magical as they did 10 years ago. The enchanting awakening of “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” still sounds like opening the most affecting book you’ll ever read, and it’s hard to recall a song that captures youthful optimism just as arrestingly as “Chicago.” It’s a genuine one-off, an album with as much instant gratification as slow-burning longevity. Amid the adroit storytelling, visionary arrangements and often overbearing emotional weight, timely idiosyncratic interludes offer a sense of playfulness to Illinois that few could execute without coming off as childish.

Ten years on, the world is still playing catch-up, and losing painfully. (

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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