“The BQE” by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens’ newest installment on the Asthmatic Kitty label, The BQE, is a far cry from Stevens’ singer-songwriter albums of the past. The BQE is definitely not as folksy as Michigan. The regional history of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York is different, of course, from that of the wolverine state where Stevens was born. The sense of familiarity does increase throughout the entirety of the album, yet the Sufjan-tinged orchestral sound keeps The BQE just distanced enough from previous work to keep long-time fans enthralled.
Though the tracks on the album each evoke their own wild imagery, they transition wonderfully from one to the next. The third track entitled “Movement I: In the Countenance of Kings” is definitely a standout piece. This Gershwin-inspired song’s grand, beautiful sound builds anticipation for the rest of the album. There is a fantastical first interlude, a dream sequence that easily leads the mind to mysterious foggy forests. “Movement IV: Traffic Shock” is simply rad, making you feel as if you are in a video game. A videogame with jingle bells. And woodwinds. Nothing new, right? Wrong. Sufjan Stevens continues to impress.