The value of Sufjan Stevens’ new release, Songs For Christmas, largely depends on whether the listener actually likes Christmas music. Like the holiday itself, Songs for Christmas can be childlike, paradoxically warm and cold, but it can also be a contemptible hullabaloo. There are some lovely interpretations of the standards like ‘O Come Emmanuel’ and ‘Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming’ that are as magical and haunting as those eternal Christmas Eves you may have experienced as a child. His Christmas originals, however, are not just bad, they’re embarrassing. His solipsism is so severe that he actually believed he could be the first artist ever to write enjoyable Christmas music on his own. There is a noteworthy exception, ‘That Was the Worst Christmas Ever’, which is beautiful, folksy, sincere — but not really a Christmas song. Like ‘The Avalanche’, it feels like an anthology of afterthoughts, held together by a concept but lacking the total vision witnessed by Michigan and Illinois. If you have a five-cd changer, it might make a nice companion while decorating the tree or cleaning the apartment for a party.