That approach does favors to the original version of "All Delighted People" and "Djohariah", self-contained song islands that would have been nearly impossible to include on Sufjan's cohesive albums. "All Delighted People" is a definitive Sufjan song, encompassing all his guises over the span of 11 deceptively brisk minutes: joyous overseer of big-top orchestration and intimate balladeer, preacher and confessor. "All Delighted People" feels capable of peaking at any given moment, which makes it a consistently gripping listen up to its pulled-taut outro of tremolo strings. Oddly, the much shorter re-edit is the one that feels like a chore to get through, largely because the second half enables Stevens' weakness for prickly and aimless short-circuited guitar soloing.
With no fanfare or hype, fans were unable to wait anxiously in hopes of another masterpiece. This was a smart move on Stevens’ part because All Delighted People is a minor letdown, but it could have been a major one had he allowed anticipation to build. Most damning of all is the EP’s title track: an absolute clusterfuck of hubris.
When you’ve captured the hearts of indie boys and girls the world over with ingenious indie-folk paeans to Illinoise, Michigan, swans, life and death, your relationship with God, the Chinese zodiac, the child-like joys of Christmas... when you are the indie darling du jour, when you are Sufjan Stevens, you can do whatever the hell you want.
The EP is built on and supported by two versions of the title track: the original, clocking in at 11:38, and the classic rock version, which was thinned down to a lean eight minutes. Before I go on, though, I should note that I don't actually immediately hate all songs that lean toward the lengthy end of the spectrum; just look back at my Moulettes review. But my initial distrust and general misunderstanding are perfectly supported and summarized in these aforementioned tracks, along with a song that clocks in at just over 17-minutes
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