3. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
For over a decade, Sufjan Stevens has given the world some of the most beautiful pieces of music of the modern era. In terms of consistency, he is easily ranked up there with the likes of other modern artists like Kanye West, Death Grips, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, or Arcade Fire. However, it’s been almost five years since his last LP, The Age of Adz. While he’s released Christmas album, worked with the likes of The Roots and The National, and even released a hip-hop album as a member of the group Sisyphus, people have been craving a new studio album for years. With this new release, Sufjan goes back to his folk roots for a touching tribute to his late mother, Carrie (who the album is named after along with Stevens’ stepfather Lowell, who started Asthmatic Kitty Record with Stevens).
In two words, this album is “beautifully depressing.” It seems to be a cathartic one for Stevens as he’s found acceptance in the death of his mother and the role she played in his life growing up. He comes to the conclusion in the album’s intro (the album is non-chronological, as it goes back and forth between different times in Sufjan’s life) that while his mother may not have been around in his life all that much, he knows why she was not able to and longs for the few memories he’s had of her.