CD Review: "The Age Of Adz" By Sufjan Stevens
Stevens has taken a detour with his new, full-length album, "Age of Adz," released Oct. 12. It’s still the same Sufjan, but he’s ventured into the electronic realm, creating encouraging, if not off-putting, results.
At times, the album sounds like a hectic collage of his musical former self, and his electronic ambitions. Or even worse — one of Steven’s unreleased albums remixed by an unappreciative DJ. The track “Get Real Get Right” is a mush of beats mislaid over choral lyrics and brassy horns. “Too Much” is guilty of its title, as is “Bad Communications.”
But when Stevens allows his brilliant instrumentals to peacefully coexist alongside technology, the results are rewardingly fantastic. In the 25-minute-long “Impossible Soul,” he uses technology for the good with beautiful electric guitar riffs, and even an artfully done autotune. In “I Want to Be Well, ” Stevens creates captivating vocals when he ventures out of his typically even vocal cadence and mid-range notes.
About half the album falls somewhere between the two. “Visuvius” and “Futile Devices” work; however, they veer toward classic Sufjan. “I Walked” has low horns and slow beats, hitting moments of musical grace.
It’s unclear whether he’s trying too hard or not hard enough. But if he continues on this route, Stevens needs to be more judicious about how much he uses electronics, and more importantly, how he uses them. To give him the benefit of the doubt, "The Age of Adaz" feel like a sidetracked pit stop, and his musical ambitions could soon come together with incredible results.