User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 614 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 41 out of 614

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  1. Sep 7, 2010
    10
    Sufjan Stevens finds his stride and then some with his second state-dedicated album. Illinois is fun and sad, catchy and haunting, seemingly simple yet undeniably brilliant. Chicago will be stuck in your head for days, The Predatory Wasp is heartbreaking and beautiful. Phenomenal stuff.
  2. Jul 10, 2011
    8
    Rich, expansive, deep, just a really really good record through and through.
  3. Aug 16, 2010
    10
    I just listened to this again ... for maybe the 100th time. It just grows in depth and beauty. Steven's voice is haunting, delicate. The lyrics are touching, horrific, lifting. The arrangements are glorious, inspiring. Does it ever become unlistenable?
  4. Jul 1, 2011
    10
    One of the best albums of all time. This is a work that will be treasured by many for decades and centuries to come. If you disagree with this statement, I recommend listening more closely.
  5. Aug 6, 2011
    10
    The perfect record.. and it seemed to come out of nowhere. Michigan was fantastic and so was Seven Swans, but this just wasn't expected. I don't know. Sufjan can be a master at music and this is probably the best example of that.
  6. Nov 24, 2012
    10
    Illinois is Sufjan Steven's best work so far. From the disturbing ballad John Wayne Gacy, Jr to catchy tune of Chicago, Sufjan fully exemplifies his extraordinary musical talent. It contains a multitude of instruments all playing beautifully together. This album exhibits Stevens best traits and is well worth a listen.
  7. sophiep
    Jan 6, 2006
    0
    it is poo
  8. JackL
    Apr 4, 2006
    6
    From the first time I listened to this record, something was bothering me about it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Sure, it is, musically a very solid album; perhaps more than a little pretentious, but that wasn't what was bothering me. When I listened to it again this morning, it hit me; it was the emotion of this album that was getting to me. I have nothing against From the first time I listened to this record, something was bothering me about it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Sure, it is, musically a very solid album; perhaps more than a little pretentious, but that wasn't what was bothering me. When I listened to it again this morning, it hit me; it was the emotion of this album that was getting to me. I have nothing against melancholy music, but the emotion of Illinois strikes me as incredibly inauthentic in an extremely annoying way. Allow me to explain- When I listen to something like an Elliott Smith album, or a John Lennon album (Plastic Ono Band, specifically), I feel like the singer actually MEANS it; really pouring their soul into their work. When I listen to Sufjan, it's like he's phoning it in, never expressing anything beyond a vague, indifferent sadness with his kitschy lullabies about fictional people, or at least people he doesn't know "crying themselves to sleep" (A lyric that appears at least twice in the album... how cliche). Am I tearing this album apart over a completely superficial quality? Well, I suppose that is your call. This is a forum of public opinion after all. I really do want to love this album, and I feel it is quite well composed, but I find that the whole tone of the album bothers me to a point where it's hard to enjoy. Expand
  9. DavidO
    Jul 4, 2006
    2
    When I first threw "Illinoise" into my CD player it took me a couple of songs to form a reaction: wow...this is really bad. By the time I bought the CD Sufjan Stevens had received an ungodly amount of hype, and I was ready to sit back like in those decade old commercials and be blown away by my audio equipment. Too bad "Illinoise" wasn't up to the task. The first thing I noticed When I first threw "Illinoise" into my CD player it took me a couple of songs to form a reaction: wow...this is really bad. By the time I bought the CD Sufjan Stevens had received an ungodly amount of hype, and I was ready to sit back like in those decade old commercials and be blown away by my audio equipment. Too bad "Illinoise" wasn't up to the task. The first thing I noticed about the album is how the production makes much of it sound limp. The production reminds me of a Coldplay album where the songs have their rough edges sanded down. If you're going to make use of this many instruments, then I want to be reminded of Mahler and Prokofiev not Chris Martin. While there are a couple of standouts (I recommend downloading "Chicago") there's just not enough high points in the twenty-two tracks to recommend the album. The lyrics are too often overtly self-conscious and overwrought. One of the worst offenders is "John Wayne Gacy Jr." The idea itself is interesting: try and create sympathy for someone who has committed atrocious acts. However, Sufjan isn't clever enough to pull this off in a three minute pop song. When talking about Gacy's victims he directs a hushed "Are you one of them?" at the listener. The results are laughable at best. Imagine the following line delivered with utmost earnestness and a fist clutched to the singer's heart (at least that's how I picture it) and you'll get an idea at how ridiculous his songs can be: "And in my best behavior/ I am really just like him/ Look beneath the floorboards/ For the secrets I have hid." Trying to create a sense of connection and empathy with a monster is an interesting idea, but Sufjan Stevens just can't do it without being overly sappy. The amount of hype this album has gotten insures that Sufjan will have a few more albums critics can overhype and then forget. I'm just hoping that he gives the whole state theme up before he reaches my home state of Ohio. If you screw that one up Sufjan, then don't expect us to go easy on you. Expand
  10. RHCa
    Nov 30, 2005
    0
    The first hint is the 100+ word titles -- how clever; the second hint is the relentless keyboards; the third is the sophmoric lyrics -- this album is garbage. The critics pulled one over on the hipsters again....thekid.
  11. 42MinuteMan
    Jan 9, 2006
    4
    I find a few of the songs on this album absolutely brilliant and infectious. Then, I listed to all the lousy filler around the moments of brilliance, and I can't help but think this album is barely mediocre. I agree with the comments on the repetitiveness of the sound. This album doesn't go anywhere. It's cerianly worth a listen, but I doubt we'll be discussing the I find a few of the songs on this album absolutely brilliant and infectious. Then, I listed to all the lousy filler around the moments of brilliance, and I can't help but think this album is barely mediocre. I agree with the comments on the repetitiveness of the sound. This album doesn't go anywhere. It's cerianly worth a listen, but I doubt we'll be discussing the influence or brilliance of this album five years from now... especially since Sufjan will have released another record or two with the exact same sounds by that point. Expand
  12. PatrickR
    Feb 2, 2006
    2
    banal, pretentious, obscure (intentional or the result of lack of talent?), musically simplistic - overall very irritating
  13. GiuseppeR
    Jul 7, 2006
    3
    I recognize a certain originality, but this CD is terribly boring, repetitive, pale, dull, but also bombastic, baroque, pretentious and conceited. I tried many times, but it's impossible for me to listen more than five pieces nonstop and arrive to the end of the CD. I am terrorized from the idea that the author carry out the project to create so many CD as the number of the states of I recognize a certain originality, but this CD is terribly boring, repetitive, pale, dull, but also bombastic, baroque, pretentious and conceited. I tried many times, but it's impossible for me to listen more than five pieces nonstop and arrive to the end of the CD. I am terrorized from the idea that the author carry out the project to create so many CD as the number of the states of America. Expand
  14. RichardK
    Jan 8, 2007
    6
    Sample this album before you buy it. Its considered a masterpiece by many but honestly no matter how many times I played it I didn't enjoy it. While a very highly rated by Metacritic, many people will find it boring.
  15. JeffD
    Nov 11, 2005
    1
    What would happen if somebody took the Dream Academy, Nick Drake, the Flaming Lips, the local high school swing jazz band and the church choir from the local church and mixed them all together? You'd get Illinois. If that sounds like a good thing to you, they go right ahead. I've tried to listen to this album many, many times, as usually certain critical publications can give me What would happen if somebody took the Dream Academy, Nick Drake, the Flaming Lips, the local high school swing jazz band and the church choir from the local church and mixed them all together? You'd get Illinois. If that sounds like a good thing to you, they go right ahead. I've tried to listen to this album many, many times, as usually certain critical publications can give me a tip on something new that I might like. This time, though, I just don't get it. There's nothing that grabs me, and nothing that rewards repeated close listens. I find myself in "cringe" moments frequently; preciousness for preciousness sake apparently. He's no Stuart Murdoch, that's for sure. If you like this album, great. Enjoy. Personally, I find it tedious and annoying to listen to wish I would have spent my money elsewhere. Expand
  16. LF
    Nov 17, 2005
    0
    aaaaaaaaaaargh!! this is crap.
  17. EddieT
    Oct 24, 2005
    5
    Gosh, don't get me wrong, I like Sufjan a lot, I've been on the wagon for a few years now. But isn't "Illinois" kind of boring? Doesn't it fail to have a singular knockout like "Vito" or "For the Widows in Paradise" or "Size Too Small"? Don't most of the songs sound the same, even after 5 months of listening plus a concert? I'm not giving up hope on him, but Gosh, don't get me wrong, I like Sufjan a lot, I've been on the wagon for a few years now. But isn't "Illinois" kind of boring? Doesn't it fail to have a singular knockout like "Vito" or "For the Widows in Paradise" or "Size Too Small"? Don't most of the songs sound the same, even after 5 months of listening plus a concert? I'm not giving up hope on him, but I don't understand what all the fuss for this album is about. Expand
  18. John
    Dec 5, 2005
    5
    I agree with Louis L. This album is ridiculously pedantic and is extremely repetitive with its use of styles, especially given the lengthy running time. I like a few of the songs a lot, but a great heap of them offer little, if anything, exciting or refreshing at all. This is one of the more overrated albums of the year. It's ambitious, sure, but not very engaging.
  19. ChrissieS
    Jul 9, 2005
    3
    This album is recycled and boring. You hear one track and you've heard them all.
  20. BrianC
    Mar 5, 2006
    6
    Ambitious recording that lacks two important qualities. One, cohesiveness of the music & two, addiction to melody after the second listening. To be sure, there are other shortcomings. Not the "must die for" record of the year by any means.
  21. adriC
    Jul 13, 2006
    3
    hyped
  22. MihaiV
    Sep 17, 2006
    7
    While he is capable of delivering brilliant songs, the album as a hole feels dissapointing. It's to long with little varity. There's no fire in this album.
  23. GregB
    Jun 25, 2007
    4
    It will only appeal to those misunderstood kids, who are the ones rate albums like this "masterpiece".
  24. louisl
    Nov 22, 2005
    2
    nice subject matter but the music is pendantic.the themes tend to sound similar and there's no development within.
  25. Jacob
    Nov 25, 2005
    5
    I love Sufjan, but this album is HUGELY overrated. Precious, overly ambitious, and ultimately irritating, there are only a few songs that I can stomach now after a few rotations of the disc. Seven Swans is my favorite of his, by a LONG SHOT.
  26. garyz
    Dec 29, 2005
    0
    crap
  27. ACritic
    Oct 31, 2005
    2
    Not convinced at all. This isn't an album about Illinois--it's yet another album about Sufjan, his favorite subject, and now he's trying to convince us he has something in common w/Gacy? Oh man, please... The songs are dull piano noodling that remind me of Roger Waters after The Wall. Writing songs about historical figures can be interesting (Dylan did this well) but Not convinced at all. This isn't an album about Illinois--it's yet another album about Sufjan, his favorite subject, and now he's trying to convince us he has something in common w/Gacy? Oh man, please... The songs are dull piano noodling that remind me of Roger Waters after The Wall. Writing songs about historical figures can be interesting (Dylan did this well) but Stevens just cannot move past his own private world and seems incapable of doing anything beyond songs whose titles carry more weight than the actual music. Look for him to stop writing music and become a poet soon. Thank god. Then I won't have to fast forward through his next record (which will sound exactly like this one which sounds exactly like the one before that) looking for some actual substance beyond the wimpiness. Go ahead. Keep giving it 10s. You'll listen to this thing at most twice, maybe three times, until your fellow hipsters have moved on to the next big thing, and you can quietly file it next to the first Strokes record, another substanceless over-hyped ultimately hollow artist. Expand
  28. LucusG
    Dec 6, 2006
    6
    It's not bad...but not great. There are some good tunes beneath all the overdone production, which not only gets in the way but annoys as well. He screwed up by being too prententious, should've just recorded the songs minimally and cut half a dozen useless filler tracks, and its a decent album.
  29. dudeguy
    Apr 25, 2006
    0
    I don't get it. Does nobody else find the whole albums-about-states bit a little cheap? To be honest, I was relieved to find that the music was equally unthoughtful. Other comments: extra instruments don't make your music profound, the songs are repetitive, depressive does not imply touching ... aaeh, it just makes me squirm. This album was unnecessary.
  30. Danielle
    Jul 10, 2005
    10
    I LOVE THIS ALBUM. I cannot stop playing it. Sufjan is one of my favorite artists.
  31. KeithR
    Jul 9, 2005
    10
    I was first exposed to Sufjan's music about two years ago when the shockingly good Michigan disc was released. Who else out there was self-mixing and composing banjo, acoustic guitar, Trumpet, xylophone, vibraphone, drums and god knows what other instruments into lush, vibrant tone poems? Michigan was a breath of fresh air and unlike anything else I had ever heard. It told a story as I was first exposed to Sufjan's music about two years ago when the shockingly good Michigan disc was released. Who else out there was self-mixing and composing banjo, acoustic guitar, Trumpet, xylophone, vibraphone, drums and god knows what other instruments into lush, vibrant tone poems? Michigan was a breath of fresh air and unlike anything else I had ever heard. It told a story as big as the Great Lakes but with all the personal detail that tied everything together and drew the listener into the state and into a state of mind. Could anyone possibly listen to Romulus and not empathize with Stevens as a child or feel the intimacy of "For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti?" These stripped down compositions contrasted fantastically with the orchestral "All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!" and "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)" which gave the listener a sense of the mighty industrial power of the great mid-west. Next came last year's deeply spiritual Seven Swans release. I haven't been to church in at least 10 years (not counting weddings and funerals) but this collection of musings on the Bible (in particular Revelations) led me to contemplate my place in this world and the possiblity of an almighty creator (anyone want to discuss the Big Bang Theory or the theory of Evolution with Sufjan?). Oh yeah, and the music was out of this world as well. See "The Transfiguration" and "Seven Swans" for examples of that. So it was with great expections (No, I haven't been reading Dickens for the past seven months) I awaited the release of Illinois. Would it match the splendor and personal emotion of Michigan? Would it capture the religious themes of Seven Swans and translate it into palpable everyman's music? Where to begin? I'll begin simply and state that this is hands down the release of the year so far. No it doesn't have the catchiness of Spoon's "I Turn My Camera On" off the very good "Gimme Fiction" disc or the splendid imagery of the Decemberists on "Picaresque," but is both more intimate and more grand than either of these fine records. Illinois keeps me rapt throughout its 77-minute-plus running time, each time I pick up some new instrument or sound that only adds to the disc's grandeur. You may be a skeptic like I was when I first heard about Steven's plan to do an albumn on all 50 states. How could you possibly capture the essence of a whole state ( and more than 200 years of history) in one release? Without question Steven's only skirts the surface of the entirety of the state of Illinois but through songs such as unweildy titled, ""The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience But You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I have fought the Big Knives and will continue to fight them until they are off our lands!,' "Jacksonville" and "John Wayne Gacey" he manages to cover quite a bit of ground. Highlights of the disc include what may prove to be Sufjan's breakout hit on Indie radio, the eminately singable, "Chicago," a song that is more about our need to travel to try and escape our problems and lethargy than about the broad shouldered city it is named after. Don't fret, The City of Chicago more than gets its due in the third track on the disc, "Come on, feel the Illinoise, Part II"" and "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts." two mind-blowing compositions that weave Steven's hushed vocals with numerous brass instruments, electric and acoustic gutars, strings, percusion instruments and choirs to convey the gravity of the great city. Perhaps it is in the use of these strings and choirs that this release differs the most "Michigan" and "Seven Swans." Steven's ability to draw us into his personal experiences can be found on this release as well, as the deeply moving "Casimir Pulaski Day," "Decatur" and "The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!" draw heavily on his formative years in both imagery and content. Time to wrap this review up as I've rambled on enough and frankly I'm at work and desparate to get in my car and listen to this for the 30th time in less than a week. Buy it now!! This man is a musical genius and needs to be heard by those in the know! P.S. I strongly encourage everyone to check out Pitchfork Record's glowing review of this masterpiece for further confirmation that this disc is well worth the purchase price and is one of the best of 2005. Expand
  32. JoshB
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    Wow wow wow. Nothing says it better. This is an amazing album from start to finish. Beautiful music, beautiful songwriting. Sufjan is a true wonder.
  33. SansB
    Sep 15, 2005
    10
    This album is pure bliss
  34. TJT
    Jan 30, 2007
    10
    I love this CD. It is by far one of my absolute favorites. The whole CD flows and half the time songs progress into oneanother without you even realizing it. GENIUS is not strong enough but it will have to do. Great CD, everyone should have a copy.
  35. AustinS
    Nov 10, 2005
    10
    predatory wasp of the palisades! - the best thing to write a song about ever
  36. DaveF
    Nov 7, 2005
    9
    Simply superb.
  37. JamesC
    Jul 12, 2005
    10
    Best album of the year, by a mile.
  38. TorM
    Jul 12, 2005
    10
    Just magical. Hard to believe that 'Michigan' could be matched or bettered but this album would seem to do that. The arrangements are staggering, the harmonies are heart-breaking and the lyrics are inspired. Stunning.
  39. TH
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    Absolute best album of the year. Everybody, regardless of personal taste or interests, should be made to listen to this album at least once, but preferably until they love it -- which will probably only take one listen, anyway.
  40. LeahT
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    One of the most beautifully crafted albums I've ever heard. It can't top "Seven Swans" but that's completely off the chart. Sufjan creates pop symphonies and delicate folk songs. He speaks of serial killers, cancer, night zombies, predatory wasps, youthful ignorance and freedom, and God with such an honest and telling nature that hardly any one else possesses. Lord, One of the most beautifully crafted albums I've ever heard. It can't top "Seven Swans" but that's completely off the chart. Sufjan creates pop symphonies and delicate folk songs. He speaks of serial killers, cancer, night zombies, predatory wasps, youthful ignorance and freedom, and God with such an honest and telling nature that hardly any one else possesses. Lord, it's fantastic. Plus, Sufjan plays about a million instruments and even employs a string quartet this time around! You must hear it for yourself. Expand
  41. mkf
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    stunning!
  42. matta
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    One of those rare cd's that is absolutely perfect and deserving of a ten. Everything on this album contributes to it's brilliance and grandeur-yes, even the little five or ten second "tracks" that detractors might refer to as uselss filler. Not a single misstep, but standouts include the title song, which makes me want to cry every time I listen to it, John Wayne Macy Jr., One of those rare cd's that is absolutely perfect and deserving of a ten. Everything on this album contributes to it's brilliance and grandeur-yes, even the little five or ten second "tracks" that detractors might refer to as uselss filler. Not a single misstep, but standouts include the title song, which makes me want to cry every time I listen to it, John Wayne Macy Jr., Jacksonville, etc. I can't listen them all, but please, get this album. Hands down the best album of the year so far. Collapse
  43. TynanD
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    The finest album of the year, clasped-hands down.
  44. DavidW
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    Album of the year, for sure. I would rarely give out a rating of 10, but this album is most deserving of it. Sufjan Stevens is the best singer/songwriter alive today. This album is so ambitious, beautiful, haunting, expansive... just wonderful. It is similar to Greetings from Michigan, which is not a bad thing. The arrangements have surely improved since that album. I can't stop Album of the year, for sure. I would rarely give out a rating of 10, but this album is most deserving of it. Sufjan Stevens is the best singer/songwriter alive today. This album is so ambitious, beautiful, haunting, expansive... just wonderful. It is similar to Greetings from Michigan, which is not a bad thing. The arrangements have surely improved since that album. I can't stop playing this album. Expand
  45. MarioT.K.
    Jul 8, 2005
    10
    This is utterly huge and reminds me of nothing because I haven't heard anything like e.g. "Chicago" before. Just give it a listen to "Casimir Pulaski Day" and have a good time.
  46. peterd
    Jul 8, 2005
    10
    unbeleiveable.
  47. RJ
    Jul 8, 2005
    10
    Amazing music that just keeps going and going. Best I've hear this year.
  48. vincentx
    Jul 9, 2005
    10
    At the moment there are only 2 names that matter in music: Rufus Wainwright and Sufjan Stevens. With this albums Sufjan is a notch more genius than Rufus. What a perfect album, what gracious music, what splendour! 48 more "States" albums to go...if he keeps this up, the future is bright indeed....
  49. JoshH
    Jul 9, 2005
    10
    This album is astounding. It's the musical equivalent of movies like Magnolia, Short Cuts and Crash -- it's all over the place, but makes sense when taken in context of the entire work. Highlights include Casimir Pulaski Day; John Wayne Gacy, Jr.; Chicago; and everything else. Well worth whatever you pay for it.
  50. JeffR
    Jul 9, 2005
    10
    Brilliant. While similar in tone to his Michigan album, Illinois represents a leap forward in both songwriting and arrangement. This year's best.
  51. PoloP
    Aug 16, 2005
    10
    This album is amazing. Brilliant.
  52. AmandaP
    Aug 4, 2005
    8
    Very nice, but the more expansive it gets, the more I miss the quiet intimacy of Seven Swans, which I still consider his most personal, and best, work.
  53. CosmoPrelog
    Aug 5, 2005
    10
    Only a notorious jerk could dislike this record. An amazing achievement. Insanely good.
  54. IanS
    Aug 8, 2005
    10
    magical!
  55. JohnF
    Sep 1, 2005
    10
    Eclectic, heartfelt, but not sappy. No crying-in-your-beer Paul Simon schmaltz here...Mellow, but digs deep into your psyche.
  56. Kakvox
    Sep 10, 2005
    10
    Best album of the year in any genre - hands down.
  57. EmilyB
    Sep 2, 2005
    10
    This cd owns your life.
  58. fattakinskywalker
    Jan 10, 2006
    10
    Without a doubt the best album i have heard in a year!! Sounds fresh, exciting and intelligent.
  59. TaylorL
    Oct 20, 2006
    10
    Sufjan Stevens has made great albums in the past, but nothing this epic. Never before have I heard an album with such intellectual lyrics, amazing songwriting, and spot on instrumentals. Music in its purist form.
  60. peteb
    Feb 4, 2006
    10
    utterly brillant!
  61. jackorff
    Feb 6, 2006
    8
    So, it's nice. You ca't say it's not nice. It deserves an 8. I guess. I don't know. I never listened to it after about two weeks. it's nIce. makes you feel like the stick cotton-candy gets wrapped around. Like filling a hot-tub with kool-aid, and splashing around with your very best chums. More thrilling than a good deed, and more than enough to hold over So, it's nice. You ca't say it's not nice. It deserves an 8. I guess. I don't know. I never listened to it after about two weeks. it's nIce. makes you feel like the stick cotton-candy gets wrapped around. Like filling a hot-tub with kool-aid, and splashing around with your very best chums. More thrilling than a good deed, and more than enough to hold over accountants until the next Dave Matthews album drops. "One Sweet World" you guys! I don't know. It is technically good. That's not really debateable, Patrick Argh. It's just a little too good, something I suspect it knows, and that - for some reason - is irritating. Cloying, precious, joyful. Give me distortion and scratches. This could pass as a recruiting tool for Vatican 3. I'm really not sure why I gave it an eight. That I know it probably deserves it just makes me resent it even more. It doesn't care if you listen. It needs no reassurance. It is a series of saccharine song-cycles subsumed within a strange sense of self-satisfaction. Sssssssso. decide for yourself: if you read bulk fowards from your aunts about the importance of living today like it was your last, most beautiful day, this may be what you're looking for. Otherwise, Hypermagic Mountain awaits. Let's go there now... Expand
  62. David
    Sep 30, 2006
    10
    I love the album, its beautiful, breathtaking and moving.
  63. AyshL.
    Jun 13, 2007
    10
    Amazing.
  64. MichaelM.
    Mar 7, 2008
    9
    This album is far from pretentious. The people who review this album are just disenchanted with their friends who love this album. Too bad that people don't realize that personal association shouldn't affect your perception of a musician or their music. Hey, I don't like the hipster scene in general, and Sufjan Stevens becomes associated with it. But this artist is at least This album is far from pretentious. The people who review this album are just disenchanted with their friends who love this album. Too bad that people don't realize that personal association shouldn't affect your perception of a musician or their music. Hey, I don't like the hipster scene in general, and Sufjan Stevens becomes associated with it. But this artist is at least genuine about the music he is creating. He knows music, composition, and orchestration more so than any pop artist. And this album is underproduced! You try being an indie artist and acquire an amazing studio to produce your work! Like I said, people are just disenchanted based on an idea of what the music and the musician art associated with. Be your own person, and think for your self. Expand
  65. EddM.
    Apr 2, 2008
    10
    No doubt in my mind: 10/10. Incredible.
  66. BrianK
    Oct 10, 2005
    10
    Melodic to the point of perfection. Some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear. Album of the year.
  67. DonN
    Oct 10, 2005
    7
    I'm getting a post-christian, after school lunch special feeling when listening to this. Yes it's voicings are fresh, lyrics are MFA without the pretension but, this is not pop music. You get the sense that the insular small town white boy is just getting his rocks off on some hyper-orchestration.
  68. CiaranC
    Nov 2, 2005
    9
    I was really amazed with this albumn, I've been listening to it on and off over the last few months and have really fallen inlove with it.Sufjan's voice is really soft on the ears but still commands your attention.The use of the rest of the band as a backing chorus and sometimes singing entire choruses together really adds body to the songs.The arrangements are excellent and the I was really amazed with this albumn, I've been listening to it on and off over the last few months and have really fallen inlove with it.Sufjan's voice is really soft on the ears but still commands your attention.The use of the rest of the band as a backing chorus and sometimes singing entire choruses together really adds body to the songs.The arrangements are excellent and the variety of piano,guitar and brass used in the songs really gives this albumn depth.I'd give this albumn ten but nothings perfect. Expand
  69. Adam
    Oct 18, 2005
    10
    innovative
  70. StigK
    Dec 2, 2005
    10
    My only problem about giving this album a 10, is that Sufjan might be capebable of makeing an even better album about NY - that is, when he finally leaves the place... Illinois is both intimate and grand in a way no other album I´ve ever heard.
  71. marck
    Dec 20, 2005
    10
    This is beautiful. Without doubt the most acomplshed album of the year by far. I was dubious about buying this album after reading all the reviews. Believe . . . it's even better.
  72. rudiw
    Oct 4, 2005
    9
    One of the best albums of 2005! (so far)
  73. AustinL
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    What oftern gets ignored about this album is how well the songs can hold up alone, let alone on the album
  74. MW
    Oct 4, 2005
    10
    There's so much there to marvel at that it's rarely left my player since it came out.
  75. AdelaidaS
    Oct 7, 2005
    10
    Best album of 2005. Don't let the first listen fool you, it takes a couple of listens to grasp the intricacy and masterful musicianship of this album. You'll probably learn something, too.
  76. OskarE
    Jul 11, 2005
    10
    Beautiful album, getting better and better with each listen (almost a hundred now!). Such a seemingly effortlessly crafted album, so subtle...not a microsecond of oversentimentalty, still one of the most passionate, emotionally charged albums I've ever heard.
  77. RamaS
    Jul 11, 2005
    10
    This is the first time I vote in here. And this is because of this perfectly beautiful album. It just blows me away, I can't tell the last time in recent years I ever feel so sure to give a 10 on an album. The music and the lyrics are just extraordinary.
  78. MattC
    Jul 10, 2005
    10
    Sufjan is a genius, period... I cannot get enough of this album
  79. RoMac
    Jul 11, 2005
    9
    The Gacy song is super creepy. Creepy enough that while I can respect the artistry, I don't want to hear it anymore. Other than that, there are about 6 amazing songs. "Jacksonville," "Chicago" and "Casmir Pulaski Day" are staggering achievements of melody, lyric and instrumentation. Onward to Wisconsin Sufjan!
  80. TravisS
    Jul 14, 2005
    10
    I need to be honest. I have followed this web site for the last two years and agree with 75% of their scores. I have been somewhat apprehensive to go out and buy their top rated albums without listening to them (I usually agree but sometimes they let me down). I really love indie rock music but never heard of Sufjan. I noticed all of the acclaim it got and was convinced to buy it (took me I need to be honest. I have followed this web site for the last two years and agree with 75% of their scores. I have been somewhat apprehensive to go out and buy their top rated albums without listening to them (I usually agree but sometimes they let me down). I really love indie rock music but never heard of Sufjan. I noticed all of the acclaim it got and was convinced to buy it (took me 5 stores to find the album in NYC). I have to admit that this is one of the best albums I have ever listend to. He is simply amazing. Everything about his music and supporting cast is golden to ears. It has convinced me that I have a lot to learn about the indie rock movement and that I need to check out more Sufjan albums. Anyone who enjoys music needs to pick up this album! Enjoy it and have a good one. Expand
  81. BjarteS
    Jul 10, 2005
    10
    Sufjan's best album so far.
  82. AceKabob
    Jul 19, 2005
    10
    Epic recording . . . An impressive expansion of the sounds on "Seven Swans" . . . Calling him "folk" seems a little, I don't know, insulting, because his musical vision is so grand . . . By comparison, I've always loved The Clash's "London Calling" because of the numerous musical genres represented on one album. Here, Stevens has similarly employed any number of Epic recording . . . An impressive expansion of the sounds on "Seven Swans" . . . Calling him "folk" seems a little, I don't know, insulting, because his musical vision is so grand . . . By comparison, I've always loved The Clash's "London Calling" because of the numerous musical genres represented on one album. Here, Stevens has similarly employed any number of instruments, time signatures, and music styles to create a beautiful album. Expand
  83. ElliottM
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    Utterly bewitching. It's one of the most wonderful things to be heard this year.
  84. bryanb
    Jul 6, 2005
    10
    gorgeous and affecting
  85. marcs
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    Too bad I can't give it an 11. This has just about everything:creative arrangements,diverse instrumentation,hooks hooks hooks and visually evocative lyrics. What's great is that the songs actually live up to their epic titles.
  86. ClaireD
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    Sufjan Stevens has taken a huge risk and succeeded, going above and beyond anything he has ever done before musically.
  87. Jackm
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    This album exceeds the already high expectations I had for it. Simply amazing, simply the best album of the year so far and could possibly, more like easily, hold that status through the year. If you don't have it, get it and give it a few listens and let it grow and grow on you...and grow.
  88. whb
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    Sufjan is one of the only musicians right now who takes music seriously. He takes everything so seriously, but without over earnest (ahem Bright Eyes) audacity. Rather, everything is connected and important from a wasp on his arm to a serial killer. This album is an amazing feat.
  89. MichaelK
    Jul 7, 2005
    9
    Sufjan has done it again!
  90. AaronS.
    Jul 7, 2005
    10
    What a stunning album. A beautiful tone poem to my homestate. One of the most ambitious albums to come out this year.
  91. nicolos
    Jul 8, 2005
    10
    Reich rythyms run thru this beauty. Glorious.
  92. JasonT
    Jul 8, 2005
    10
    So far, no album released this year is even in the same class as "Illinois." Both heartbreaking and exciting, this is perhaps the best album since "The Creek That Drank The Cradle," only it may be better than even that. "John Wayne Gacy" is truly haunting, and the best song I've heard this year.
  93. AdamX
    Jul 9, 2005
    10
    Brilliant. Just brilliant.
  94. AramisG
    Aug 1, 2005
    9
    Plenty of people have given Sufjan Stevens favorable reviews I totally agree with. He is very talented and even if you agree with what I have to say you should still listen to his albums if you haven
  95. AlexB
    Aug 1, 2005
    9
    Great album, almost no complaints, but I think it could have been tighter. Also, too much flute. Still one of the best albums this year though.
  96. joshm
    Aug 13, 2005
    10
    this guy has God given creativity and he uses it more than any other musical artist in history
  97. christopherw
    Aug 21, 2005
    10
    Best album of 2005 so far by a mile, would recommend this to anyone who knows what music is and should be all about.Well done Sufjan on an excellent recording!!
  98. BrandonR
    Aug 23, 2005
    10
    A home run, if not a grand-slam, if not a pinch-hit grand-slam onto Waveland Ave. in the bottom of the ninth.
  99. timm
    Aug 26, 2005
    10
    One of the best albums of this decade. Truly great music. The kind of music that would be top of the charts if the media were not controlled by giant media conglomerates.
  100. IanB
    Aug 26, 2005
    10
    The most inspirational music that I have heard since the Dylan and folk era of the 60s/70's. Soulfull, haunting, with lyrics and harmonies that cut across generations. Cant wait for the next state.
Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. There's a distinct community theater vibe to the whole affair... but the majority of Illinois is alarmingly earnest.
  2. Stevens is simply one of the most talented artists creating music right now, period.
  3. Exhausting, enthralling, disorientating, celebratory, and contemplative, Sufjan Stevens has delivered another album that will keep us listening and educated till Christmas.