In 2002, Sufjan Stevens declared his intention to record an album for each of America’s 50 states. He never made it past this second attempt, presumably because it would be nearly impossible to realize the concept so perfectly ever again. Here, he folds Prairie State iconography into brutally intimate narratives as effortlessly as he builds simple, folky foundations into exquisite orchestro-rock excess. Illinois is an audacious spectacle, offering up grand anthems (“Chicago”) one moment and sympathetic laments for serial killers (“John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”) the next.
Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
The Black Hawk War, Or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself In the Morning, Or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience But You're Going to Have to Leave Now, Or, "I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!"
Come On! Feel the Illinoise!
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But for Very Good Reasons
Decatur, Or, Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!
One Last "Whoo-hoo!" for the Pullman
Casimir Pulaski Day
To the Workers of the Rock River Valley Region, I Have an Idea Concerning Your Predicament
The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
Prairie Fire That Wanders About
A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis In the Great Godfrey Maze
The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!
Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All the Way Out In Bushnell
In This Temple, As In the Hearts of Man for Whom He Saved the Earth
The Seer's Tower
The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders
Riffs and Variations On a Single Note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and the King of Swing, to Name a Few
Out of Egypt, Into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I Shake the Dirt from My Sandals As I Run