Sufjan Stevens – Age of Adz Review


It’s been five years since Sufjan Stevens last released a song-based full length album, and much pressure has been put on the Detroit born folk-rocker in the wake of the success of 2005 hit Illinois. Despite announcing that he would release 50 concept albums based on each of the American States, Stevens seems to have abandoned this idea, instead choosing to take a new direction with his music.

His latest effort breaks away from his signature baroque sound in favour of heavy electronics and drum machines. There are still the various instruments quintessential to Stevens’ style, such as flutes and horns, and these are incorporated into the automated modulation to varied effect.

Supposedly the album’s title (mysteriously pronounced “Age of Odds”) is a reference to the apocalyptic artwork of schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson and the album itself reflects this, being somewhat darker than his previous work both in terms of  its themes and sound.

The album itself begins very safely with “Futile Devices”, a beautiful expression of love, created through the medium of guitars and keyboards combined with Stevens’ ethereal vocals. The following track “Too Much” offers a gentle easing into Steven’s new electronic sound as, despite being heavily orchestrated with blips and punchy synths, it contains a highly catchy melody. Here, the combination of sweeping flutes with synthesizers and drum machines works surprisingly well.

As the album progresses it becomes increasingly experimental, ending with the epic 25 minute “Impossible Soul”, which represents the pinnacle of his tentative exploration and contains fetching melodies and a multitude of instruments; from some rather avant-garde guitar to truly bizarre strings.

Stevens is evidently multi-talented with his incredible instumental versatility. This is not his first electronic endeavour; his 2001 album Enjoy Your Rabbit, based on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, was entirely electronic. However, in some instances there is a feeling that his eccentricity has gone slightly too far.

Many of the songs are just too obscure, making them inaccessible and in some cases chaotic and disorganised: more of a cacophony than a symphony. For those into the likes of highly experimental music, this is definitely an album to explore, but for the standard Stevens fan the song title “Too Much” may be an apt summary of his latest effort.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Oct 19th 2010.

One Response to Sufjan Stevens – Age of Adz Review

  1. Awesome info, a lot of many thanks towards the author.

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