On the second single from Sufjan Stevens’ upcoming album Javelin, the singer-songwriter pleads for something that we all want: unconditional love. The spare guitalin of the introduction might recall a younger Stevens, like the one who yearned over lost adolescent romance on 2005’s “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!” Back then, he sounded naively hopeful that love would soon return. Eighteen years later, patience has worn thin. “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” hardly sounds lonely, though: Stevens dramatizes a far-reaching feeling of desperation with a sound that’s bright and expansive, carefully assembling each new instrumental voice—gentle piano, warm strings, a trio of backing singers—like fire logs waiting to ignite. “Tie me to the final wooden stake, burn my body, celebrate the afterglow,” he sings, searching for any feeling as intense as the ache of longing.
Correction: The stringed instrument Stevens plays on “Will Anyone Ever Love Me?” is a guitalin, a type of lute; it is not a banjo.