Recent surveys suggest that an embarrassing number of Americans can't name all of their country's 50 states. Sufjan Stevens presumably isn't among them, since he's announced plans to record an album about every single one. He's already tackled his home state of Michigan; now on Illinoise his attention turns to its richer, more self-confident neighbour. The storytelling songs here are absolutely engrossing, featuring local legends, small-town characters and potted history lessons that skilfully explore the state's sinister underbelly. Musically it's a curious uplifting blend of alt.country and military arrangements, a bit like the Polyphonic Spree without the hippy philosophy. It's hard to believe that Stevens can really pull off another 48 of these things - but it'll certainly be fun listening to him try.