Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz

Categories: Review Roundup
Sufjan Stevens Adz.jpeg

​It took him five years to produce a follow-up to his acclaimed studio album Illinois, yet Sufjan Stevens spent his time wisely. Today marks the release of his grandiose, electronically-driven The Age of Adz. Gone is the cute, innocent little banjo player -- replaced with a dark, brooding drum machine master. Perhaps taking a rather large cue from the inspiration for Adz -- the art of Royal Robertson -- the album sets a course through some before unseen territory for Stevens. Fuck setting sail on a different course -- the album ends up on an entirely different planet.

Fans of Stevens hoping to hear songs akin to "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!" and "Chicago" will be disappointed. Stevens has stretched his sound across a massive creative chasm, rendering parallels to his previous work futile. 

As always, with such a creative leap forward, Adz is not without its controversy. But an album like Adz is what keeps both critics and the public on their toes, forcing them to shift their mindset to adjust to Stevens' new work.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

The Guardian: "While Stevens may have largely abandoned the standard verse-chorus song structure, he hasn't abandoned his celebrated way with a melody: however out-there the music gets, however harrowing the lyrics become, there's usually an incredible tune that goes some way towards sugaring the pill."

Spin: "A mostly electronic affair longer on beats than on banjos, Adz arrives free of any narrative superstructure (excepting allusions to outsider artist Royal Robertson) and eschews much of what has won Stevens his devoted fan base--delicate acoustic fingerpicking, tidy song structures, colorful characters plucked from dusty pre-Wikipedia reference books."

Sputnik Music: "But whereas Tyler Durden revels in this anarchy, I get the sense that Sufjan is deathly scared of it, which makes Age of Adz not a celebration of anti-culture but a majestic tragedy about the loss of belief, and this is equal parts heartbreaking, fascinating, and stunning. It all makes sense in a Sufjan sort of way."

MusicOHM: "Stevens undoubtedly remains a substantial talent - this is arguably as good a showcase of his madcap aspirations and multi-instrumental skill as anything else in his catalogue. He is not, however, a judicious editor. This is an extravagant and undisciplined album that is nearly impossible to digest."

The Age of Adz is out now via Asthmatic Kitty.

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