The most universally acclaimed release of Sufjan Stevens’ career is Carrie & Lowell, his 2015 album inspired by the death of his estranged mother. Because it’s a set of spare, beautiful ballads removed from his usual whimsy, even many listeners who tended to be skeptical of Stevens expressed appreciation for the project. But at least one prominent voice in indie rock feels differently. In a since-deleted Tumblr post, Car Seat Headrest leader Will Toledo shared this hot take: “I wish Carrie & Lowell felt less like a sucessful exercise in generating ‘Sadness’ and more like a collection of songs that the artist cared about writing.” The post is cached here and quoted here.
Shade in the shadow of the cross! Toledo has a right to his opinion, of course, but to these ears it’s hard to believe someone’s main critique would be that Stevens didn’t care. What do y’all think? Should he have known better?
UPDATE: As it so happens, Toledo has also published a review of Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo today at The Talkhouse. His Pablo take is much longer and more nuanced, acknowledging the album’s “repulsive” qualities while declaring, “It’s also one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time — and one of the most beautiful.” It’s an insightful review! Read it here.
UPDATE 2: In a humble, self-aware, and funny new Tumblr post, Toledo apologized to Stevens. The post begins with the line, “God fucking damn it, I’m becoming the next Father John Misty, aren’t I?” which is genius. Here’s the full message:
God fucking damn it, I’m becoming the next Father John Misty, aren’t I?
I would like to apologize to Sufjan Stevens, who is an artist I greatly admire, who happened to make an album that resonates less with me than it does others. I deleted the post because he didn’t deserve it. Peace and love to all.