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Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #60 Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

 
Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 album of the decade!

Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.

#60 Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

Sufjan Stevens drifted in and out of many phases in search of a defining sound. His first album, A Sun Came, was a broad experiment in wide range of genres, from indie rock to Middle Eastern pop. His follow-up, Enjoy Your Rabbit, was an experiment in electronic music, but failed to come across as a serious effort. Sufjan Stevens truly discovered his sound when he made Greetings from Michigan. However, it was 2005's Illinois that let the world know about this discovery.

Michigan was a beautifully orchestrated folk-pop album that was as seamless as water. Stevens' whisper-cooing and banjo-picking were at the core of the album, while polyrhythms and multiple melodies powdered its surface. And, essentially, Illinois was the same. The key difference, though, is that it was much grander in scale, bringing in more instrumentation for an all together larger sound. Furthermore, Stevens fully embraced his voice, which sounded restrained on Michigan, but robust on Illinois. Ultimately, it was the combination of this grandiosity and Stevens' voice that made his sound more accessible. So, it is no surprise that Illinois made Stevens a star. It is an album that is musically complex, yet aurally accessible and thus, fits well in the Top 100 Albums of the Decade.

[ play ] | [ download mp3 ] Sufjan Stevens - The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts

[ play ] | [ download mp3 ] Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day

Check back tomorrow for the next album! To see the full list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade, click here.

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