Synthesized drums and dissected, twisted vocals open the positive electronic track”Lamentations” as Sufjan Stevens sings out: “I was just thinking of person kindness/I am the long run, specify the future”
It’s this tenet that conveys through”The Ascension” since Stevens admits the chaos about him resolves to rise over. It’s both a cautionary tale and a call to action. America might be burning, validation hunting might have become even farther afield in a social networking era, however, as Stevens articulates from the media release accompanying the record, the time has come to”be a part of the solution or escape the way”
After his last full-length record, 2015’s lean and haunting”Carrie & Lowell,” the shift in design and tone is crude. Where”Carrie & Lowell” watched Stevens looking tirelessly, “The Ascension” sees Stevens respond to his outside surroundings.
Much like many Stevens records, Biblical references abound, but in a manner that invites doubt, uncertainty and irreverence. From the final track” America,” Stevens appears to wonder if God will abandon him in precisely the same manner he left America because he critiques the nation’s culture. “I am embarrassed to admit I believe,” he sings.
While the record explores an underlying current of righteous anger and despair, there are instances these feelings have been changed into the private agency.
On”Tell Me You Love Me,” what begins as a desperate request affection turns out to solve as the music yells and triumphant voices coating to sing: “I will love you” The control does not need to lie at the hands of the other. Stevens makes it his decision to move ahead from a place of love.