Illinois (styled Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the ILLINOISE on the cover; sometimes written as Illinoise) is a 2005 concept album by American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. His fifth studio album, it features songs referencing places, events, and persons related to the U.S. state of Illinois. Illinois is Stevens' second based on a U.S. state—part of a planned series of fifty that began with the 2003 album Michigan and that Stevens has since acknowledged was a joke.
Stevens recorded and produced the album at multiple venues in New York City using low fidelity studio equipment and a variety of instruments between late 2004 and early 2005. The artwork and lyrics explore the history, culture, art, and geography of the state—Stevens developed them after analyzing criminal, literary, and historical documents. Following its release, Stevens promoted Illinois with a world tour.
Critics praised the album for its well-written lyrics and complex orchestrations. In particular, reviewers noted Stevens' progress as a songwriter since the release of Michigan. Illinois was named the best-reviewed album of 2005 by review aggregator Metacritic, and was included on several reviewers' "best of the decade" lists—including those of Paste, NPR, and Rolling Stone. The album amounted to Stevens' greatest public success to date; it was his first to place on the Billboard 200, and it topped the Billboard list of "Heatseekers Albums". The varied instrumentation and experimental songwriting on the album invoked comparisons to work by Steve Reich, Neil Young, and the Cure. Besides numerous references to Illinois, Stevens continued a theme of his songwriting career by including multiple references to his Christian faith.
A1 Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
A2 The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Going To Have To Leave Now, Or, "I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!"
A3 Come On! Feel The Illinoise! Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
A4 John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
A6 A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons
B1 Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!
B2 One Last "Whoo-Hoo!" For The Pullman
B4 Casimir Pulaski Day
B5 To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament
C1 The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
C2 Prairie Fire That Wanders About
C3 A Conjunction Of Drones Simulating The Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze
C4 The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
C5 They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!
C6 Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell
C7 In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
D1 The Seer's Tower
D2 The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders Part 1: The Great Frontier Part II: Come To Me Only With Playthings Now
D3 Riffs And Variations On A Single Note For Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, And The King Of Swing, To Name A Few
D4 Out Of Egypt, Into The Great Laugh Of Mankind, And I Shake The Dirt From My Sandals As I Run
D5 The Avalanche