Sufjan Stevens

Silver & Gold

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

Silver & Gold, the 2012 follow-up to 2006's Songs for Christmas, offers up another five-EP set of schizophrenic seasonal cheer from one of indie pop's most prolific and maddeningly detail-oriented overachievers. Housed in an incredibly colorful box that yields volumes 6-10 of the series, they are presented in meticulously decorated, single cardboard sleeves that feel like part of a graphic design thesis, and are accompanied by an 80-page booklet filled with lyrics, chord charts, childhood photos, and personal and production liner notes peppered with rainbow headers, temporary tattoos that include a skeleton Santa, a Manga unicorn and an emo-Jesus, and a construct-it-yourself holiday ornament (comic book-style instructions are provided). Stylistically, it's a lot to take in which, not surprisingly, applies to the music as well. For the most part, Silver & Gold stays true to Stevens' predilection for kitchen sink, lo-fi chamber pop, but he plays fast and loose with the formula, offering up nervy, post-rock oddities like "Mr. Frosty Man" and "X-Spirit Catcher," progressive folk epics in "The Boy with the Star on his Head" and "Christmas Unicorn," and an Age of Adz-inspired rendition of yuletide favorite "Alphabet Street," by Prince in lieu of just standards. That's not to say that the Christmas spirit has been subverted, as Stevens provides plenty of traditional holiday cheer ("Joy to the World," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Silent Night," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" (which clocks in at 40 seconds and is performed only on recorders), and his band of disparate merry makers, who include Aaron and Bryce Dessner (the National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), and assorted members of the Castanets and the Danielson Famile, among others, who help to keep things lively and spontaneous, resulting in an audio experience that's akin to pressing your ear against the door of a rehearsal room in a church basement, or watching a Wes Anderson movie while listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 0:48 Amazon
2 5:33 Amazon
3 1:09 Amazon
4 1:22 Amazon
5 1:18 Amazon
6 2:10 Amazon
7 1:20 Amazon
8 1:16 Amazon
9 2:41 Amazon
10 1:08 Amazon
11 1:49 Amazon
12 2:09 Amazon
13 1:49 Amazon
14 1:22 Amazon
15
1:28 Amazon
16 1:50 Amazon
17 2:27
18 3:50
19 1:22 Amazon
20
0:59 Amazon
21 1:51 Amazon
22 0:42
23 2:00 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick