Review Summary: When was the last time you had an epiphany?
These days it's difficult to tell what constitutes a genius. The masses worship at the feet of Chris Martin and critical knees wobble at the thought of Thom Yorke, but the fact remains; It is often what we don't
see that brings us to fling the label of 'genius' to and fro.
Sufjan Stevens, the middle-class Michigan suburbanite superhero, has created a league of Acoustic Indie that stands head and shoulders above the rest. His lush, whispy voice carpeting songs with melodies and harmonies that soothe our ears and create glorious dreamscapes. Songs of his catalogue range from the epic to the tragic (See song: 'Flint'), and the true nature of his lyrics are broken only by the brutal literality that they often present.
Much like Stevens' music itself, I'm purely setting the mood here, but as I said, it's what you don't
Enjoy Your Rabbit
was released in the September of 2001, when Sufjan hadn't yet hit the big time, and to be fair it's no wonder. I might as well break it to you now; This is not Sufjan Stevens. It is in theory but I guarantee you won't believe it. This album contains;
-Elements of Musique Concrete.
-Harsh electronic glitches and beeps.
-People talking in Japanese.
-Songs up to 13 minutes long.
-Songs lacking in structure.
-Songs lacking in emotion.
-All songs named after the years of the Chinese Zodiac.
-A large amount of audio played backwards.
Now while this sounds like cause to brand it a pretentious experiment gone hideously wrong, that's the last thing this album is. The problem with Stevens is that comparison constantly hampers praise of his work. Any post-Illinois!
review of Enjoy Your Rabbit
massacres the album for spanning a monumental chasm of difference from 2006's The Avalanche
and 2003's Greetings From Michigan
. Every forum or sound-off feature is filled with quotes like 'I expected some more indie pop from Stevens, and I was horrified by this album. What a waste of money'. Even in hindsight, the album is still dismissed by the O.C.-watching masses, when in reality, this
may just be Sufjan Stevens' Magnus Opus.
It takes some serious bravery to release an album like this, and while Sufjan's relentless preaching of the Lord's word and his clean-cut image suggest that he's a perfectly normal guy, I'll be damned if these 14 tracks were created by a 'perfectly normal guy'. Year of the Asthmatic Cat
and its older brother Year of the Monkey
kick off the album, and like Sigur Ros' Von
before them, they break down the very thought of what is considered music even by the first track. The tracks on this LP trip back and forth from glitchy to glitchier and freak out just as they appear to be forming coherent patterns. The drum beats, when present, are thumping and industrial, the glockenspiel is minimalist, the sound effects run the show and as a result, you're left with an album that leaves you with possibly the two strongest psychological feelings one can attain through music; Extreme fascination and tremendous unease. Every beep, every screech, every thump, every choral hum and every rumble tears into your mind and holds you hostage. You become lost in a world of music you never knew existed; a world where sounds hold greater significance than before. This is an album that cannot be cast to the background. This is an album that cannot be shared with friends. This is an album that is deeply personal to whoever listens to it, and while they may find it unlistenable, fascination is a tricky thing to shake.
Forget Michigan, Seven Swans, Illinois!
and The Avalanche
(well, don't forget
them as such), Enjoy Your Rabbit
is a masterclass in doing everything that logic tells music not to do. Some claim it borrows inspiration from neo-classical and serialist works, and that it is the perfect example of true electronica. While these statements may be true, one thing is for certain; It is the most confusing, yet brutally and catastrophically beautiful record that Sufjan will ever make, and even though a only a handful of people will genuinely 'enjoy their rabbit', let it be known that the man famous for one thing has already pioneered another.
Stevens is now officially rank 'Genius'.