With over 20 albums under his belt, Sufjan Stevens is not unfamiliar with the intricacies of making music. After the success of his soundtrack for the Oscar-winning favourite Call Me By Your Name (CMBYN), the pressure for him to create the lyrical undertones to all our love lives and heartbreaks has only increased. Javelin, released on Oct. 6 and is Stevens’ newest beautiful album.
Listening to Javelin feels like entering a world of folklore—exploring a realm of angelic imagery and fairytale love. In “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” the sound of birds chirping underscores the otherwise heartbreaking lyrics about yearning for someone to love and hold. In Stevens’ fairytale, songs with his signature style feel like running through the grass during summer, such as “There’s A World.” However, outliers such as “Goodbye Evergreen” have an almost pop-like rhythm. As the album’s opener, the song punches intrigue into its listeners’ ears, making them excited for the tracks to come next.
Many of Stevens’ songs draw a strong contrast between the lyrics and the melody. The juxtaposition of melancholic writing with cheery melodies highlights how this album takes the reader on a journey of realization and the ups and downs of love. With songs like “Genuflecting Ghost,” the listener almost intrudes on something private due to his text’s anecdotal feel. Stevens’ raw lyrics heighten the magical elements of folklore and religion that are incorporated into these songs, imbuing them with a surreal quality.
On his website, Stevens penned a poignant blog post describing the profound loss of his soulmate and partner, Evans Richardson IV, who passed away in April. The album is dedicated to his partner and makes the listener sense Stevens’ heartbreak. But songs such as “My Red Little Fox,” where beautiful backup vocals collectively accentuate the song, help the listener realize that Stevens is creating a space for shared experiences through his music. Whether it be encounters with love, loss, loneliness, or sadness, this album contains it all. Stevens is not afraid to share his feelings with all his listeners—and his listeners aren’t afraid to follow his lead.