Since when are EPs 60 minutes long? What is even an EP? I used to think of them as short, not really wide releases that didn’t even have that much production. Sort of like a presentation card for new bands, and a way of exploring new ground without starting a riot with their older fans for older bands. But I guess now they’re just whatever you want them to be. Just label them EP or LP and it’s ok. I actually don’t mind the label, it makes me feel more comfortable. Like, it’s less serious than an officially released album. Whatever an EP actually means nowadays, Sufjan Stevens released one last week.
If you haven’t heard of Sufjan, he’s one of the most ambitious musicians since like, forever. He’s quite a character. Like a few years ago, he was like “Imma make an album for every US state!” and everybody else was like “Yeah, right”, and he was like “Wait and see, fuckers”. He made Michigan and Illinois (the latter being much bigger and crazier than the former, but both very good), and then he came out a few years later and was like “Yeah, that was all a joke”. And we were like “Yeah, we told you that, fucker”. He’s that kind of guy. He writes songs about serial killers and says he feels related to them. He makes titles as long as “The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience But You’re Going to Have to Leave Now, or, ‘I have fought the Big Knives and will continue to fight them until they are off our lands!'” and puts a dozen different and unusual instruments playing at the same time just to get through a climax part in a song. My kind of guy (in a non-gay, music geek kind of way).
And so after all the 50 states controversy, he made something related to the BQE and a very long Christmas album, and then he played (more like worked as a standing mannequin) with The National and then he came out with this so called “EP”. It’s called All Delighted People and it has a hideous cover with a little Leo DiCaprio in it. And there’s also 2 songs called All Delighted People in it. I guess they called it like that for a reason. One of them, labeled as “original version” is the opener and it clocks in at around 10 minutes. There’s a lot that happens during those 10 minutes. It occasionally explodes, it loses control, it gets chaotic (like Britney). Then there’s parts where there are 20 voices of beautiful female angels backing Sufjan on the chorus, that, of course, has a line with “All Delighted People” in it. It’s really great
The lyrics are metaphorical and hard to decipher, especially because they are super long and get tedious, but the music never does. There’s supposed to be a apocalypthical theme to the whole album but I never got that vibe, at least not anymore than usual. Sufjan is a very religious guy. At least I get that vibe from Illinois. The problem with this album is, when you have songs that stand out so much, like both All Delighted People‘s and the closer “Djohariah”, the other songs in the album get outshined, overshadowed. That’s how I feel about this album (EP, bla). The songs in between are not bad, in fact, they’re very good; but, would they not be in this album I think I’s appreciate them a lot more and not just be thinking about how long I’ll have to wait until they get to the epic long hymns that the previous songs are. They all feel slow and dull, but they’re not. They’re just out of context with the longer songs. The only song that stands out is “The Owl and the Tanager” because it’s sort of creepy, yet beautiful in it’s own twisted way. Then there’s the “classic rock version” of the ADP versions and it’s supposed to be related to the first part but the only thing that makes me think they’re related (besides the title) is the chorus. The classic rock version has a cool slow solo and it feels looser, more relaxed than it’s “original” pal.
And then, after the underrated “duds” and the ADP songs, we get to the closer, the epic, epic “Djohariah”; an almost-entirely instrumental mad 17-minute jam, of which about 10 minutes of it are taken by a beautiful guitar solo with what feels like a dobro, while in the background some ladies harmonize with “ooohh’s” and what sounds like “Djoha-Djohariah”. Then the song slows down and Sufjan takes the mic to deliver the closing verses and then he goes on (along with the ladies) to sing the “Djoha-Djohariah” part and the music fades out to close what could very well be the most beautiful album (or/and EP) that Sufjan has made. At least some moments feel like that. I have a feeling that this’ll make it as one of my favorites this year. At least “Djohariah” will be one of my fav songs.