Sound — 10
Knowing that the 21 tracks on The Avalanche were some of the songs Sufjan Stevens cut from his brilliant Illinois album, one can only assume that the sound will be similar to that of its predecessor. The songs are, as expected, not as good as those on Illinois, but still hold their own and form a great CD, outtakes or not. The three new versions of Chicago, probably Sufjan's most popular song, are fun, but possibly knock down the value of The Avalanche as its own CD, and show its true colors as an Outtakes CD. Nonetheless, Sufjan manages to pack in more material on this record and comes out shining.
Lyrics — 9
As Stevens stated himself, the lyrics here are not as personal as they are on Illinois, a big part of their exclusion from that album. Sufjan continues to prove that he is as brilliant a lyricist as the next guy, however, as he gives the listener a lesson on many Illinois-related topics while still managing to blow you away with his words. His brilliant melodies will never leave him, and his brilliant falsetto can be heard on many of the tracks, as heard on Illinois through many of the better tracks.
Overall Impression — 9
This is certainly not a better album than Michigan or Illinois, but it improves his discography immensely. Highlight tracks are "The Henny Buggy Band," "The Mistress Witch from McClure," "No Man's Land," and the title track, "The Avalanche." The album sees no disasters, and no tracks that one should consider skipping, unless you're tired of hearing "Chicago."