Sufjan Stevens has released a sprawling new song, “America,” aptly in time for the country’s birthday weekend. The 12-minute track is the lead single to his upcoming album, The Ascension, which will arrive on September 25th via Asthmatic Kitty.
“America” opens in a swirl of electronics and harmonized, processed voices, with Stevens pleading on the chorus, “Don’t do to me what you did to America.” The arrangement, which recalls the symphonic-sized electronic barrage of 2010’s The Age of Adz, builds with twists and turns, adding live drums, synths and gusts of ambient sound.
In a statement announcing his new record, Stevens called “America” “a protest song against the sickness of American culture in particular.”
The Ascension is the follow-up to 2015’s Carrie & Lowell. Earlier this year, Stevens teamed up with his stepfather, longtime collaborator and Asthmatic Kitty cofounder Lowell Brams, to collaborate on the ambient record Aporia. In 2017, Stevens teamed with Nico Muhly, James McAlister and the National’s Bryce Dessner for the album Planetarium; that same year, he penned the score to Justin Peck’s 2017 ballet The Decalogue, which was later recorded by Timo Anders on piano and released as an album of the same name in 2019.
While it has been five years between his own albums, Stevens released two songs for 2019’s Pride Month and the single “Tonya Harding” in 2017.