Sufjan Stevens: Love Yourself / With My Whole Heart - Track Review
While not the strongest batch of songs he’s released, “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart” contain messages worth celebrating.
Sufjan Stevens’ new mini-EP for LGBTQ+ Pride Month is built on a simple idea. Love yourself, and love will come to you. As an artist known for coming to often grave conclusions regarding himself, his family, and those public figures that populate his childhood, “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart” reflect the same for-hire style of the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack. Stevens was the perfect choice to write a few songs for a film about two lovers summering in Italy, and he’s an equally apt voice to be celebrating Pride Month, with awestruck delivery and an innocence that’s lasted his entire career. What’s disappointing about the two main songs here (there’s also a demo of “Love Yourself” and a reprise) is their lack of emotional weight.
Stevens’ usual bag of tricks is still in play: vocal layers, bubbling synths, even a guitar solo appears at the end of “With My Whole Heart,” but the songs feel stripped of personal statement. On “Love Yourself,” he echos “Love, can you love/ yourself/ Show me everything/ Every reason to believe in yourself” until the cliche means almost nothing. The songs are well-intentioned, and bear the luminous production markings that will keep many coming back, but unlike his previous one-offs, Love Yourself / With My Whole Heart will never be as memorable outside of context.