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.