With Carrie & Lowell out in the world and his demons momentarily exorcised, Sufjan Stevens has come back to the future. He’s still on tour supporting the new album, but “Exploding Whale” is a departure from Carrie & Lowell’s haunting, stark acoustics. There are effects galore on Sufjan’s guitar this time around, and he brings back the pitter-pat synths that make his more futuristic BQE work hum. The last third is especially vibrant, the instruments swarming and dancing around one another for maximum chill.
The song was originally conceived as a physical-only tour gift for fans, but the song’s description explains the change of heart: “At first we thought it would be more interesting to let this be vinyl only. Then we realized that’s a dumb idea. Then we ran out of time. So no download? Of course someone will digitize and put on the internet, so good job internet! This is what happens when we all work together! Go team!”