Illinoissounds likeThe Sea and Cakecollaborating with the high-school band from a Wes Anderson film on banjo-driven, pulsing meditations on Vince Guaraldi's music forPeanuts. Sufjan Stevens, the singer-songwriter behind the endeavor, is an earnest and … see full wiki
It's extremely difficult to describe the music on Sufjan Stevens' ILLINOIS. It's unlike anything I've ever heard in my entire life. Upon first hearing it I felt like Saleri listening to Mozart's compositions for the first time. Though the music will not appeal to everyone, it's so unique and refreshing I suggest that anyone who enjoys real music listen to ILLINOIS a few times just for the experience. Some of my favorite songs from the album include:
"Come On! Feel the Illinoise!"--the song that comes closest to being a theme song for the State of Illinois on the album. The song is very upbeat, alluding the hope in the future and the promise of progress of the World's Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago in 1893. The song also has an allusion to a downstater, author and historian Carl Sandburg.
"John Wayne Gacy, Jr."--this moving and emotionally ballad refers to the famous serial killer from Illinois. The song basically tells the tragic biography of Gacy. Gacy was a well-respected, nice man that everyone who met seemed to like, but he abused and killed many young boys. The song uses Gacy as a metaphor for the evil actions that all of us commit in our thoughts and hearts.
"Jacksonville"--a country-feeling, yet upbeat song about the middle-state city that was named for Andrew Jackson and was a major stopping point of the underground railroad.
"Chicago"--having grown up in southern Illinois, I have mixed feelings for Chicago, the city that literally means "stinking weed". However, even though the city is mentioned and referred to several times in other songs on the album, I guess it's only fitting that the album contains at least one tune just for Chicago. The first time I heard the song I didn't like it very much, but the more I listened to it, the more I came to like it. In that regard, Stevens' "Chicago" is just like the city it is named after.
"The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts"--just looking to the title one would think that this song is about Metropolis, IL and the giant Superman statue in the town. But it's much more. The song has a driving percussion beat and guitar medley in the chorus emphasizing the positive feelings that Superman conveys. Superman was one of the first Christ-like characters to appear in comics and the song uses that imagery, meditating on the real man of steel.
"The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!"--of all the songs on the album, this song is the one most obviously spiritual and is full of religious imagery. The song is a hymn about the beauty of creation and the Creator who made it all. `Lamb of God, we sound the horn/Hallelujah!/To us your ghost is born. Hallelu'
"They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Run for Your Lives!! AHHHHH!"--the music of this song is very rhythmic, direct, and repetitive (especially the spelling chant of I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S) and makes the song feel like an army of marching zombies attacking. The song mentions many of the great people who were born, raised, and that lived in Illinois from Ulysses Grant to Ronald Reagan. It also mentions several towns and cities in Illinois. In general, the song seems to be a call to arms to not forget the people and places (most from common origins) that made the state great; the remembrance of those people and places should inspire the citizens to rise and make the state great again.
Overall, a unique album of music full of vivid images, spiritual allusions, and powerful metaphors. The music is original and smart. Highly recommended, especially for people looking for a fresh and different sound.