Normally, describing an album as 'the ultimate background music album' would be the highest insult but when it comes to Christmas music, that's exactly what you need. Something to hum along when you're wrapping presents or to cheer you up in your car as the windows freeze over and the roads become icier. In this case, Sufjan Stevens' festive album, Silver and Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, has hit the nail on the head with how to deliver seasonal cheer without going overboard with children's choirs a la The Darkness or Westlife.

Silver and Gold ties up the traditional with modern so that this album can in fact be played during your Christmas dinner without your parents asking "So this is electronic music, is it?" Sufjan takes on the big religious numbers, the classics to some, like 'Silent Night', a disco-fuelled version of 'Joy To The World' and 'Ave Maria', with ease but he makes sure to add enough of his own quirks so that it isn't mistaken for Charlotte Church's Christmas album.

This 58-track collection, spread over five discs or available as a download for $15, is hefty. Along with the religious songs, we have the usual snowy, fuzzy, seasonal numbers like 'Jingle Bells', 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' and 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' along with some originals by Sufjan himself. The utterly joyous 'Lumberjack Christmas/ No One Can Save You from Christmases Past' sums up this amalgamation of old and new perfectly with these lines: "If drinking makes it easy (So pass one here)/The music's kind of cheesy (And sing and cheer)/There's specials on the T.V. (The specials on the T.V. screen)/Ho, ho ho, ho ho." Although I doubt that Sufjan's Christmas Day involves tuning in to see who has kicked the bucket in Albert Square.

This is the second collection of Christmas songs released from the Detroit man, his last collection, Songs for Christmas, was released in 2006 and it had 42 songs. This is a man that loves Christmas and he does not cut any corners with this brazen and daring love. You would think it would be difficult to inject a new lease of life to songs like 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' but he somehow manages to bring that level of warmth and loveliness that this time of year is all about. I can only compare it to that emotional scene at the end of Home Alone when Kevin McCallister is reunited with his mum. If that scene does nothing for you, then this album and the entire month of December are probably not for you.

Listening over an extended period of time, this album will tick every box. We have Santa, we have Snowmen, mistletoe, warm fires, snowstorms - the lot. But in one condensed listen, 58 songs of Christmas cheer may get a little exasperating. And, be warned, the refrain from 'Ding-a-ling-a-ring-a-ling' will get stuck in your head and not everyone will appreciate you singing "Baby Jesus is the king, the king-a-ling-ling" on repeat. Take this album in parts. Like a selection box, if you eat all the chocolate in one go, you'll regret it but if you spread it out over time, you can do no wrong.

It's about time that Sufjan Stevens got to soundtrack an animated Christmas movie because the 12-minute extravaganza that is 'Christmas Unicorn' deserves a bigger platform and some fabulous stop-motion characters to go along with it. It would give Robbie the Reindeer some serious competition.

If Mariah Carey is the queen of yuletide songs, and Shane MacGowan the king, then Sufjan Stevens should definitely be placed in the same line of royalty. We're so lucky that his relentless love of the season and all it entails has manifested into something so lovely, obscure and endearing. Silver and Gold gets it right and of all the Christmas albums that will be released in the next few weeks, this will outshine them all. A Christmas album that sounds good all year round is an achievement that warrants praise and Sufjan, I applaud thee.