The collaboration between Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux and Serengeti has always been interesting, if not cohesive. As a weird convergence of three points, there were definitely awkward learning phases. I’ve always been a big booster of Son Lux since his debut album, and Sufjan Stevens is Sufjan Stevens. Serengeti was an unknown quantity to me but he seemed like the type of counter culture rapper that is Anticon’s stock-in-trade.
Back when they were going by the name s / s / s, it was this weird disjointed mix of spoken word-like verses and variations of Sufjan’s recent love for auto tune. Son Lux added some meat to the arrangements, but overall it wasn’t a project I would revisit for any reason other than curiosity. A pure, “that happened” moment featuring 3 highly creative forces doing their best to work together.
Now rebranded as the easier-to-talk-about Sisyphus, the trio is back and they might finally be functioning as a single unit. If it’s true that they’re mostly deferring to Serengeti’s direction this time around, that might have been the correct move. “Alcohol” isn’t a barn burner, but it does sound more like a song and less like a novelty. No longer is Serengeti rapping over non-beats as an afterthought to the weird production.
I don’t expect this song to break down genre walls and gain credibility with hip hop heads, but it’s much more than just an interesting experiment now. “Alcohol” is ambient rap, entrancing beats and, most importantly, a song bearing several more replays.
Their first full self-titled album is out March 18 on Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise.