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Sufjan Stevens

"I Walked"


[Asthmatic Kitty; 2010]



By ; September 2, 2010 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Sufjan Stevens is returning with his first “song-based” album in five years; the true follow up to 2005’s Illinois, and “I Walked,” the first taste of that album is a different prospect indeed. That hour-plus opus to The Prairie State was so full of warmth that it even managed to make infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. seem personable, so the cold drum machines and electronics that form the basis for “I Walked” may come as a bit of a shock. Sonically it is quite similar to Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit album, and the relative sparseness fits nicely into a song with lyrics about receiving the cold shoulder from a lover.

Sufjan’s aching, echoing vocals work themselves quite brilliantly around the beats and the verses build perfectly into what should be a huge and crushing chorus, but unfortunately “I Walked” never quite reaches that peak. Stevens changes register, and adds some female backing vocals, making it sound big, but what “I Walked” lacks is any real hook or moment of outright musical brilliance that a single should have. The final minute consists of Stevens’ repetitive vocals intermingling with the electronics and female vocals, working their way up into a conclusion, but it all leaves you feeling a bit empty; where are the cascades of instruments or the delicate arrangements that have so delighted us on Sufjan tracks previously? There’s plenty going on here by the end, but none of it feels remarkable or memorable.


5/10







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