Sufjan Stevens’s ‘Javelin’
Sufjan Stevens is no stranger to sorrow. For more than two decades, Stevens has crafted poignantly introspective albums from Carrie & Lowell to Convocations , drawing on his experiences with loss, faith, and identity. His latest album is no different. Sufjan released Javelin on Oct. 6 and, along with it, a statement opening a window into his life and deepening the context behind his latest musical project. “This album,” Stevens said, “is dedicated to the light of my life, my beloved partner and best friend, Evans Richardson, who passed away in April.” Javelin incorporates Stevens’s diverse musical influences into a cohesive album. The album ranges in sound from singer-songwriter to classical orchestration to warped electronic pop, yet, it still flows holistically. This is in large part due to its continuous existential themes of heartbreak, yearning, devotion, and bittersweet acceptance. Sufjan’s immense personal tragedy contextualizes Javelin in many ways and makes every lyric more meaningful. The star of the album is the despairingly-titled single “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” It’s a heart-tugging melody of endless searching that has cemented itself as one of Sufjan’s best songs yet. “Will anybody ever love me?” Stevens laments, “for good reasons, without grievance, not for sport.” Both “Goodbye Evergreen” and “My Red Little Fox” are reminiscent of Stevens’s early songs and demonstrate his mastery as a lyricist. “So You Are Tired,” released earlier this summer as a single, has some of the most emotionally devastating lyrics we’ve heard from Stevens since Carrie & Lowell in 2015. “So you are tired... of even my kiss,” he sings. The eight-minute track “Shit Talk” is another standout on the album, including a dazzling guitar solo from The National’s Bryce Dessner. Stevens concludes the album with a cover of Neil Young’s “There’s a World.” Although it’s an unexpected choice, the song’s hopefulness carries Javelin to the end of a journey examining love and loss. Javelin will leave listeners feeling that although Sufjan Stevens is still endlessly searching for meaning in life and in people, there is always joy in sometimes finding it. Sabrina Bailey is a sophomore in the College studying Psychology.