Wallowa Lake Monster | Sufjan Stevens


Andrew Younker

With his last full-length effort, Sufjan Stevens managed to, yet again, redefine his sound as well as set the bar incredibly high for modern folk music. Carrie & Lowell came five years after his electronic odyssey and arguable magnum opus, Age of Adz, but it’s stripped back approach to the usual grandiose songwriting Stevens puts out stunned quite a few of his fans. The album carries tremendous weight despite the careful melodies and soft whisper he croons with, detailing traumatic childhood events in sardonic prose. Stevens weaves heartbreak into beauty and clarity at every opportunity. He bleeds genuinely. At a point, it’s hard to imagine him topping or expanding upon this universe of deeply intertwined, goofy folklore that he carefully cultivated, but “Wallowa Lake Monster” does just that.

Possessing elements of every Sufjan era so far, diehard fans are in for a treat with this track. “Wallowa Lake Monster” is the culmination of Carrie & Lowell’s dancing guitars, Illinois’ sweeping chorus, and Age of Adz’s bleeps and bloops, making up a six minute escapade that’s worth so much more than the sum of its parts. Stevens, being a well-documented Christian man, doesn’t shy away from biblical reference on this song specifically. The “Lake Monster” in question alludes to Leviathan, or his mother, if you pay close enough attention. It’s refreshing to hear an artist use their music as an outlet for personal issues through deeply religious ties. Stevens doesn’t preach, he compartmentalizes his own emotions and desires through his beliefs. Even if the overt Christianity is a little much for you, his candid story telling ability and soft, smooth voice propels the song even further.

With this single, Sufjan Stevens is planning to release a short project with tracks new and old from the Carrie & Lowell era. For a dude that leaves five year gaps in his album releases, we’ll take all we can get for now.