In a sentence:
A curate’s egg only of interest to hard-bitten Sufjan fans, ‘Aporia’ is a series of frustratingly half-formed good ideas recorded with his stepfather Lowell Brams.
Aporia is the long-awaited new album from indie phenomenon, singer and songwriting icon Sufjan Stevens, but it’s not quite the package that his ravenous and enthusiastic fanbase might have expected. It’s a series of collaborations with Lowell Brams, a familiar name referenced in Stevens’ last outing Carrie & Lowell, who is his stepfather and business partner with whom he established the Asthmatic Kitty label.
Sufjan Stevens has made his name as a prodigy and legend of
the 21st century era of indie-folk with his soulful melodies,
painstaking lyricism and beautiful composition on masterpieces Michigan, Illinois and
Carrie & Lowell. It seems forever ago when Stevens semi-seriously
envisioned releasing 50 albums, one for each American state. But since, he’s
moved on to releasing several EPs of Christmas songs and various collaborations
and even earned a nomination for an Oscar for ‘Mystery Of Love’. After
such illustrious and acclaimed output, we come to Aporia, another
curveball in a career characterised by them.
READ MORE: Sufjan Stevens // ‘Illinois’ at 10 years old
Aporia marks the departure of Brams from the record
label, and this experimental new age album is the testifying proclamation of
love that Sufjan portrays for his stepfather. His interest in music was
heightened by Lowell with their jam sessions that they had when Sufjan was young,
and this arrangement of their various experiments is in a way appropriate for
the situation, where each song feels like an atmospheric ambience you find near
the end or in the credits of a movie. A beautiful sentiment which unfortunately
doesn’t equate to a great album.
The teaser tracks that were released flagged up that Aporia
might be tricky going, extremely experimental in a nature similar to that
of 2010’s inscrutable The Age
Of Adz,but what sets this apart is the fact that there is
almost no acoustics involved in the development of Aporia, where it was
all electronic composition with glitchy synths. The teaser tracks were too
scattered to get a general overview on the tone of the album, something that
can only be derived after a holistic listen. But even after going through the
whole album, there seems to be no concrete, overarching feeling.
The major problem with this album is that almost every track
is too short-winded to develop into something remarkable. Every song in this
22-track piece is basically a thumbnail sketch, characterised by synths and
electronica. Abrupt endings plague this instrumental record so much so that it
borders on irritating, a feeling distinct from euphoria, catharsis or
melancholy that seem at the centre of every previous Stevens record. There are
some tracks that have the potential to be beautiful, even charming, but do not
get the turnover they deserve.
All the facts presented above interlace into a whole that can described as disappointing, to say the least. Ultimately, it feels unreal that Sufjan Stevens, legend of the indie-folk scene, should release something so fundamentally inessential. A curate’s egg of a record, for those interested in a deep dive into Stevens’ personality. (2/10 by Sufjan’s standards, 4/10 by everyone else’s) (Aryan Agarwal)
Listen to Aporia by Sufjan Stevens & Lowell Brams here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Aporia, Aryan Agarwal, Asthmatic Kitty, Lowell Brams, review, Sufjan Stevens
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