Album cover artwork for The Ascension by Sufjan StevensAfter the stripped-back indie folk of 2015’s Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan Stevens returns to a primarily experimental palette of sounds on his eighth studio album The Ascension.

The hallmarks of Stevens’ 20-year career remain as impactful as ever, with rich atmospherics and his delicate voice underscoring the album’s 15 tracks. Songs on the record slowly transform into grand moments, Stevens layering synths and his vocals to grand heights before surrendering to a frenzy of noise. Thematically, the album reconciles with his existence and the importance of love, obscuring detail for sweeping statements. The result is Stevens at his most dazzling and profound.

The Ascension by Sufjan Stevens is out October 2 on CD and vinyl, via Asthmatic Kitty/Inertia.

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