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Sufjan Stevens: 'The Age of Adz' — 3 out of 5 stars

Tags: Music

This is not Sufjan Stevens. Not even close. What are those echoing sounds and deep chasms of reverb? Where are the fun folk trips and warm acoustic ballads? When the world was promised a new Stevens record this past summer, no one knew what to expect, but it was certainly not this. After releasing the true to style All Delighted People EP in August, Stevens does a 180 and serves up The Age of Adz.

The new album opens with the fairly normal "Futile Devices," and then proceeds to resemble the hypothetical result of Trent Reznor producing an MGMT album in an arcade. For an exact example of what that last sentence even means, look no further than the second track "Too Much." Bangs and pops whiz by, and the listener will undoubtedly expect to hear the words "HIGH SCORE!" every 30 seconds.

Once the CD converts into a Sega Genesis, there is no stopping Stevens' runaway electro sound. The Age of Adz is plain evidence that, five years after his last album (the instant classic Illinoise), Stevens is doing whatever the hell he wants. This includes his best auto-tuned T-Pain impression on the 25-minute foray into forever, "Impossible Soul."

The verdict? Mixed. After rumors of retirement, it's good to have Stevens back, but his dive into electronic jams is anything but groundbreaking. He is, however, a talented songwriter, and lines such as "Don't walk away while I am speaking" remind us that if we blink, we might miss another flash of brilliance from Sufjan Stevens.

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Entry comments

Oct. 13, 2010 at 3:27 a.m.

Noko: Sounds like you've never heard Sufjan's Enjoy Your Rabbit. Electronic is nothing out of the ordinary from Sufjan. It is quite "true to style".

Oct. 13, 2010 at 11:19 a.m.

Peter: I'm not sure how closely you follow Sufjan Stevens, but this album is vintage Sufjan. Anyone who has heard Sufjan's early offerings "Enjoy Your Rabbit" or "A Sun Came" would know that The Age of Adz is not a 180 shift in style, rather an amalgamtion of the styles he has already shown us. I wouldn't expect a reviewer who thinks Sufjan hasn't produced an album since Illinois to know this. If you did your research or knew what you were talking about you would know that The Avalanche came out after Illinois. Other projects (Songs for Christmas or The BQE) were also released after Illinois. Careless mistakes like this hurt the credibility of your review.

Oct. 15, 2010 at 5:03 p.m.

Eric Staszczak: You definitely need to expand your knowledge of artists to be able to efficiently evaluate their work. And I think the last thing anyone wanted was anything that sounded too terribly much like Illinois, since it was so well done in the first place. No offense man, but it's important to broaden your knowledge of the artists and music in general to give a real review of any record or song.

Oct. 16, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.

Parker: Going to have to echo what others are saying in the comments. It sounds like you really enjoyed Illinois but haven't ventured very far outside of his States' collection. This record, if anything, is a return to form (re: Enjoy Your Rabbit). Also, Sufjan's contribution to 'Dark Was the Night' hinted at what 'Adz' was going to sound like.

Oct. 25, 2010 at 12:13 a.m.

Mr. Diabetes Diet: Sweet site! Keep up the informative posts.

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