Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

A Sun Came

Asthmatic Kitty

This reissue of A Sun Came, in the shadow of Sufjan Stevens’s most recent work, is rather underwhelming and eclectic almost to a fault. The folkish core of Stevens’s best material is easily discernable on the wood flute/Scottish highland vibe of the opening trio of tracks, “We Are What You Say,” “A Winner Needs a Wand” and “Rake.” The theme begins to derail right afterwards…

For whatever reason, Stevens includes a handful of superfluous spoken word pieces that deal with various bodily functions and other unpleasantries, played at a sped-up chipmunk pace. Also not helping are the forays into sludgy, ponderous grunge and Middle Eastern raga on “Demetrius,” the ungainly quasi-funk of “Super Sexy Woman” and the truly horrific free-jazz attempt “Rice Pudding.” Even some of his better songs are marred by false, or extended, endings that drag simple pop archetypes past the six-minute mark.

The strength of Stevens’s subsequent work makes the voice-finding nature of this disc forgivable. I, for one, am thankful that from such a mash-up and wreck of genres that he was able to recognize and nurture only his strengths — intimacy, delicacy, brevity — and leave his shortcomings entirely out of his future songbook. As it is, A Sun Came is a hit-or-miss collection that’s better than college rock but still too sophomoric for all but the most devoted fan.

Asthmatic Kitty: www.asthmatickitty.com

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