Sufjan Stevens – Silver & Gold

Sufjan Stevens - Silver & Gold (Asthmatic Kitty)I have conflicted feelings about Christmas music. My generally positive experiences with it as a kid are balanced by increasingly crass and repetitive use of it as early as October to trigger Pavlovian shopping impulses. Apparently, so does Sufjan Stevens. Having previously released a five CD box set called Songs For Christmas in 2006, his obsessiveness with the holiday has reached epic proportions with yet another five CD set, Silver & Gold. While there are plenty of traditional songs (highlights include gorgeous versions of “Silent Night,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “O Holy Night”), he throws some interesting originals in the mix that you might not want to play at Grandma’s house. Especially on the latest set, with song titles like “Even the Earth Will Perish and the Universe Give Way”, and “Justice Delivers Its Death,” and stickers and album art featuring a cat-ridin’ skeleton, and a Grim Reaper skeleton wearing a Santa suit, he veers between gleefully morbid and crushing seasonal affective disorder depression. On the gleeful side, the promo video for “Mr. Frosty Man” features a snowman who takes on a horde of zombies (including a Santa zombie) with a chainsaw and shotgun. The liner notes essay of the latest box set end with the words, “Advent is ultimately about death. The end is near. You are going to die. Happy Holidays.” Will Stevens’ next album delve into death metal or apocalyptic occult doom? Let’s hope so! Almost better than the box set are the seven infomercials, an homage to Time Life ads of yore.

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