Sufjan Stevens
The Age of Adz


4.5
superb

Review

by JesusChris USER (5 Reviews)
November 25th, 2010 | 19 replies | 4,509 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “On Sufjan’s 7th studio effort, ‘The Age of Adz’ he goes one step further to proving that he might not even be human”

To understand the complexities of man you have to be open to mans complexities. What we achieve as people is all determined by the manner in which we exist. I am a firm believer that people who are artistic are far from those who are literary. However a time comes once in a long while when a person possesses both of these qualities. Planets align, stars collide and visionaries are born. Sufjan Stevens is the product of these astronomical events. Sufjan Stevens is a goddamn visionary and he’s ‘not ***ing around.’

On Sufjan’s new album The Age of Adz, Stevens destroys anything that would have made him any more like Elliott Smith. Gone are the banjos and soft acoustic ballads, the heavenly piano riffs and the angelic vocal lines. Taking their place are computerized drum loops, mixing samples and believe it or not even a use of auto-tune.

“It’s hard so I wont say it all and I won’t stay very long, but you are the life I needed all along.” Softly whispers Sufjan on the album opener Futile Devices, the only song on Adz reminiscent of acoustic and atypical Sufjan. It marks the departure in sound, one final farewell to the soft spoken, gentle Stevens that once was the genius behind his collection of bible stories transformed into folk ballads, Seven Swans, serenaded with intricate banjo work on every track or his 2005 effort Illinois; a 22 song epic about the quirks and perks of the state. He’s no longer singing about serial killers, UFO sightings or Abraham and while this may not be his most beautiful record, it is by far his most personal.

There have been many bands/artists to take to electronic route in their approach to music in the past. Many of them unsuccessful (see Editors’ 2009 album) and then perhaps the most famous and debated; Radiohead’s 2000 follow up to hyperbolic critically acclaimed Ok Computer when they abandoned all guitars and produced the beautiful monstrosity that was Kid A. So when Sufjan announced he would be ditching the guitars and banjos and ukuleles and would be replacing them with drum loops and manufactured samples the response was similar to that when Radiohead suggested the same thing. Those skeptics were quickly silenced when the album was released; pushing the boundaries between music and sound he stationed himself behind a mixing board and created an orchestra of synthetic music that soars with melody and rhythm in a way that hasn’t been done since Kid A. Stevens has proven himself worthy, he’s shown us that everything he touches turns to gold.

This album is by no means perfect, however it’s imperfections are just as refreshing as it’s perfections. They show that Sufjan is still human (only slightly) and is capable of making mistakes. The concept behind songs like Too Much are a little over saturated with electronica and poppy undertones, it comes across a little awkward when contrasted to Stevens’ demeanor. However he’s an artist who dares to go outside his realm of thinking and pushes boundaries, which is part of what makes him easily one of the most hardworking and talented artists in the current music world. Anyone who has heard his work with an ear for musical talent should recognize this.

Sure to be fan favorite I Want To Be Well could very well be the best song Stevens has ever written. The layering and build up is suspenseful, the harmonies are breathtaking and the lyrics more than powerful. Not to mention a side of Stevens we have not seen before emerges in this song, in 45 seconds he destroys any thought you had of him being an innocent man of God as he sings with angst “I’m not ***ing around, I’m not, I’m not” over and over. It’s powerful; it’s moving and totally unexpected.

In true Sufjan style (odd just for the sake of being odd) he closes this album with a 26-minute (that’s right, 26 minute) epic. Impossible Soul tells the story of the different stages of a suffering relationship, it’s haunting yet charming, bright yet dark and everything in between. His use of auto-tune comes into play in this song and while some of you may be biased to that term, it’s the best use of the technique since Bon Iver’s Woods.

Fans of Sufjan Stevens, new and old will appreciate his work here. It may take some getting used to not hearing the beautiful banjo noodling anymore but it’s guaranteed that with time you will at least appreciate the ideas behind this mans work, if not the music then at least his work ethic, for there is no denying that he puts himself into everything he does. When artists come around like this they move pretty fast, if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss them.

4.5/5

Recommended Tracks:
• Futile Devices
• The Age of Adz
• Now That I’m Older
• I Want To Be Well


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Comments:Add a Comment 
JesusChris
November 25th 2010



673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I know it didn't need another review. I'm just practicing.

Enotron
November 25th 2010



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

kk.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2010



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

On Sufjan’s new album The Age of Adz, Stevens destroys anything that would have made him any more like Elliott Smith.

so he's going back to new jersey, he does believe they've had enough of him



Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

JesusChris
November 25th 2010



673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I stole that line from a staff member subconsciously. cant remember which.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2010



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

;-)

JesusChris
November 25th 2010



673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Consider it an homage haha.

psykonaut
November 25th 2010



3913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

not that this album needed another review, but this is pretty solid. your third paragraph has one giant clusterfuck of a sentence though, you might wanna edit that



JesusChris
November 25th 2010



673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers bro, will do.
This is my second review, first non TBT.

SoapySoap
November 25th 2010



865 Comments


Dude's not fucking around.

DiceMan
November 25th 2010



7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think he's a robot.

couldwinarabbit
November 26th 2010



6996 Comments


...I have saddly yet to get this.

SoapySoap
November 26th 2010



865 Comments


...I have saddly yet to get this.

You should. The booklet that comes with this album has some pretty cool pictures and junk.

psykonaut
November 26th 2010



3913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i got the vinyl the day it arrived at my record store. best purchase ever

fr33convict
November 26th 2010



11687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey another Adz review cool.

Love this album, my brother hates it.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 26th 2010



7144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. It's also probably a good idea to review well-covered albums when you want to practice writing - just so that you have something to measure yourself against. Hope to hear more from you in the coming days.

Also, the amount of amazing reviews that this album got made me just step out and go buy it one day. You 13 reviewers with 3.5++ ratings had better be right.

kingjulian
November 26th 2010



1297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Will be returning to this sometime soon, but for now I'm not too sure what the hullabaloo is all about. First three tracks are absolutely marvelous, as well as Vesuvius and Impossible Soul, but I'm ridiculously bored for the whole middle section.

conradtao
Emeritus
November 26th 2010



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Like, don't love the album. Good review!

The physical record looks really great.

newjunkaesthetic93
November 30th 2010



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm gonna buy a physical copy of this to prove I'm not hip

Rsetness9
January 16th 2014



675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not many can break down musical barriers like that and come out the other side so gallantly.



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