Album review: Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People EP (Asthmatic Kitty)

Long-awaited new material makes for a disappointingly flabby return

Toying with people’s emotions is a habit reserved only for the most dreaded coves, and given [a]Sufjan Stevens[/a]’ beautiful, heartbreaking back catalogue, we didn’t think he practiced that sort of hot’n’cold tactic. However, as quickly as our hearts nearly exploded when he put up a new, hour-long EP for $5 download last week, they promptly deflated as it transpired to be one of his worst releases to date. The title track is 11 minutes of painfully celestial balladeering self-indulgence, a mess of standard-[b]Sufjan[/b] jittering flutes mixed with the most offensive noise from his best-avoided early electronic period. Worst of all, it appears again as an eight-minute [b]‘Classic Rock Version’[/b], flabby with noodling banjo in the vein of much of the rest of the record. This being an EP with such self-consciously excessive titles suggests – hopefully – that this is [b]Sufjan[/b] excavating the contents of his famously fraught mind, leaving him ready to start afresh on a proper, better focused album.

[b]Laura Snapes