Sufjan Steven’s “All The Delighted People EP”

TBI writer, Sarah Bates, gives Sufjan Steven’s “All The Delighted People EP” a “5.” Do you agree with her?

Guest Writer

out of 10

Sufjan Stevens
All The Delighted People EP
August 20, 2010
Asthmatic Kitty

Dear Sufjan,

This letter has been a long time coming. You had me once. No one else could craft a song that made me cry over a serial killer who dressed like a clown and murdered young boys the way that you did.

Writing this, I’m not even listening to the new EP—I’ve written down my thoughts on it, which I will address shortly herein—but rather, Seven Swans. I’m trying to remember what it felt like to hear “The Dress Looks Nice On You” and feel small and trapped within myself in juxtaposition to the magnitude of feelings it evoked in me.

The last few years have felt like you weren’t even here. You were touring all the time and you hadn’t released an album since 2006. I thought I could be satisfied with The BQE. The arrangements of “Movement VI—Isorhythmic Night Dance with Interchanges” brought forth glimmers of your early work mixed with the talent for composition you’ve developed as you’ve grown. It made me forget the abandoned gimmick projects of the early years and my own childish naivety for ever believing there really could be an album for every state. The BQE highlighted your many strengths and I was proud to know your work and endeavors in other mediums.

But now this All Delighted People EP. Yes, the first titular track opened in such a hauntingly enthralling way that even eleven minutes and 641 words later, I thought we could actually work things out.

Sufjan, I can’t keep pretending. You’ve devoted eighteen minutes towards two versions of the same song. “Heirloom” and “From The Mouth of Gabriel” lose their charm bookended as they are by what you’ve titled the “original” and “classic rock” versions of something that isn’t delightful at all.

And “Djohariah,” the seventeen minutes and three seconds long ending to what you aren’t admitting is a full-length album—I haven’t even been able to listen to it yet because I just don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of renewed commitment to what is obviously our failing relationship.

I think we should see other people. You were effervescent once and your songs were filled with a delicate fragility that I couldn’t help but love. Maybe things can change. Maybe The Age of Adz will be a great when it comes out this October, but I really think we’re growing apart. I’d like to say that I’m distraught over the whole thing, but I’m not. I’d rather let go now and remember the good times.

I hope you don’t mind that I’m keeping Seven Swans and Illinois as mementos. And thanks for The BQE–it was nice to have such a happy memory to end on.

PS: I listened to “Djohariah.” For a moment, I thought I had written this letter in haste. The orchestral vocals in the beginning gave me hope for something reminiscent of all the majestic wonder you once put into this relationship. Now I see it was just a desperate last attempt to make this work. Sufjan, we both know it’s over. Please don’t call. I really think it’s best if we don’t speak for a while.

Oh, and I was lying all those times I said I liked your habit of odd and extended track names.