With Michigan in the rear-view mirror, the second edition of the now-defunct 50 States Project sees Sufjan Stevens up the ante considerably: he’s picked up a wandering choir on the side of some highway road, handkerchiefs tied in bundles on the ends of sticks slung over their shoulders, joining the modestly-sized orchestra already strewn out across the back of his rickety truck, and into Illinois they’ve come, horns blazing and choirs a-singing! No more is our hero timid in the face of grandeur – certainly not with songs like “Jacksonville” there to be buoyant and celebrated – and he’s kept his group of travelers close at his side, straddling tributes to friends and step-mothers with swirls of strings and a healthy, borderline caricature, wealth of choir chants. “The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades” twists and twinkles in a wispy orchestral swell, “Decatur..” stands steadily on the tightly-wired plucks of a banjo, and “Chicago” pushes the choir to absurd levels of weepy youthful abandon but the real trick Sufjan pulls is that, as he did so brilliantly with Michigan, this isn’t about patriotism or a guided tour as much as it’s about downsizing the spirit of regular people into sometimes quiet and sometimes overtly extravagant takes on life. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, you’ll find a lot of yourself in Illinois.
Quite possibly, I don't know about Cursive, but Death Cab are a little "heavier" then sufjan. Basically Death Cab is more rock and Sufjan is more pop. I highly recommend Sufjan, and there's only one way to find out if you like it.
Illinois was, for a brief period (ie until the backlash started), the Funeral of 2005. It's not hard to see why - the blend of invention, songcraft, unusual instrumental textures, and warmth suggests that this will be a brilliant album. Yet, what feels like 3 hours later, you see Illinois for what it is - a handful of great songs, a remaining cast of fairly good songs, and a few boring songs. But above all, a LOT of songs, and there simply aren't enough ideas here to justify 22 vehicles for them. Sufjan's lack of grasp on quality control ruins what could have been a very, very good album. In about 9 attempts, I still haven't managed to listen to the whole thing without getting bored, frustrated, or irritated. Less is more, kids.