Everybody’s favorite musical noodler is back at it with what can be considered a rocker… for him. Sure it’s whispery and filled with all the over-lavish overlapping lutes you’d expect from Sufjan Stevens, it also is the most direct album Stevens has made in a while. All Delighted People while full of the polite Simon & Garfunkle plucking guitars has a finger pointed out – at you, rather than toward you.
Unfortunately, there is a little too much signature musical and vocal noodling, which leaves the album feeling more like an idea rather than a statement. Nothing exemplifies this more than the unconvincing electronic passages, which sound more like Sufjan expressing his amateurish appreciation of the form, rather than its mastery. While All Delighted People is gorgeously produced, as we have come to expect, it left me feeling that Stevens is dealing with a real identity crisis between being an singer-songwriter and his newfound place as a classical composer. Songs such as “All Delighted People (Classic Rock Version)” promise a focus back on Sufjan’s roots, but the 8 minute track is a meandering composition and neither classic or rock.
While there are beautiful moments to All Delighted People which will make a listen enjoyable, the album follows Sufjan farther down the avante-guard hole he fell into after Illinoise. More strings, more production, less structure.