Sufjan Stevens's third album is a charming homage to his home state of Michigan. Filled with heartbreak, the album cryptically addresses Stevens' frustration with the notorious job market in the city of Flint in a lovely ballad that opens the record, and documents the depressing struggle the city of Detroit has fought to once again attain the elegance it had prior to the riots in the late '60s; however, it also touches on a brighter side, as in the cascading "Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!" Its title is a reference to the campaign adopted by the state in the 1980s and serves as the centerpiece as well as Stevens' attachment and amour for the state he is from. Musically, Stevens often plays his Jim O'Rourke and Stereolab cards, riffing along with complex polyphony in building loops and dynamics, but he also frequently imports lightly strummed guitars and stark banjo picking to break up the album and give it a rustic northern folk aesthetic. Stevens comfortably handles nearly every instrument on the album -- an impressive task that includes various keyboards, woodwinds, guitars, and percussions -- but also enlisted the help of Megan, Elin, and Daniel Smith from the Danielson Famile to help out with vocal duties, and the outcome is a haunting and hypnotic studio opus certainly worth getting lost in.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh