Sufjan Stevens, 'The BQE' (Asthmatic Kitty)

Critical Mass
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by Josh Modell

It's been four years since the breathtaking Illinois, a fact that makes The BQE -- an instrumental orchestral homage to the troubled New York roadway, composed for the Brooklyn Art Museum -- all the more frustrating to navigate. There's nothing inherently wrong with 40 minutes of cresting and receding strings and woodwinds (or the accompanying Stevens-directed travelscape DVD), but it's not what we want from a guy so achingly good at wispy orchestral pop. He's admirably ambitious, but another installment of his "50 states" project (or at least an album he sings on) would be welcome.

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