Sufjan Stevens has returned with “America,” the first single from his upcoming eighth solo studio album, The Ascension.
The transcendent 12-minute song, which relates the betrayal of Jesus to the current state of America amidst dirty synth stabs and bright percussion, was actually first conceptualized when Stevens recorded his deeply personal 2015 album Carrie & Lowell.
“I was dumbfounded by the song when I first wrote it,” Stevens said in a statement. “Because it felt vaguely mean-spirited and miles away from everything else on Carrie & Lowell. So I shelved it. But when I dug up the demo a few years later I was shocked by its prescience. I could no longer dismiss it as angry and glib. The song was clearly articulating something prophetic and true, even if I hadn’t been able to identify it at the time. That’s when I saw a clear path toward what I had to do next.”
“America” is the first preview of The Ascension, which Stevens explained aims to “exterminate all bullshit. Be part of the solution or get out of the way. Keep it real. Keep it true. Keep it simple. Keep it moving.”
The Ascension will be released on September 25 via Stevens’ longtime label Asthmatic Kitty. Listen to “America” below: