- Audio CD (11 Oct. 2010)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
- ASIN: B004132I4S
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,812 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
The Age Of Adz CD
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Sufjan Stevens' ninth studio album sees the singer-songwriter ditching the usual banjos and trumpets to create an electronic sound inspired by the works of the schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson.
It’s unusual for an artist to have wider renown for the scope of their ambition, rather than for a particular piece of work. Yet Sufjan Stevens’ place in pop culture consciousness revolves around his professed desire to write a record about every American state. With just Michigan and Illinois undertaken in the last seven years, the project’s completion seems unlikely, unless Stevens lives far beyond his 35 years. Still, those albums made clear his unique songwriting trademarks – an author’s penetrating eye for detail, and a lilting voice backed by pulsating, rhythmic orchestration.
For an artist with such an obvious interest in story and narrative, it’s a surprise to see The Age of Adz, his first album proper since 2005’s Illinois, declare at the end of its opening ballad that "words are futile devices". That line acts as a clarion call for the tone of the record, one apparently loosely based on the imagery of American artist and schizophrenic ‘prophet’ Royal Robinson. If narrative consistency was paramount before, here fragmentation and obliqueness are ever-present. Too Much is suffused with Kid A-like sighing synths and waves of glitches, while the title-track comes across like the lost soundtrack to some strange 1930s sci-fi B movie, all blustering strings and choral harmonics.
There are some beautiful moments in amongst the manic electronic experimentation, but Stevens’ strength as a songwriter lies primarily in his sincerity, his ability to express intimacy without appearing cloying or saccharin. As such it’s the most subdued, personal songs on The Age of Adz that have the deepest impact, such as Now That I’m Older with its sad refrain of "somewhere I lost whatever else I had". Still, the over-riding sense here is of a world in pieces, and an artist in the process of shedding his former self. When Stevens shrieks at the end of I Want To Be Well, "I’m not f***ing around", you wouldn’t want to argue with him, let alone when the album ends with an extraordinary 25-minute piece, Impossible Soul, that amalgamates elements of folk, hip hop and everything in-between.
As with the rest of the album, though, the lengthy closer is suffused with individual moments of brilliance but let down by its self-conscious incoherence. The Age of Adz is a record to admire, rather than to love.--Sam Lewis
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Top Customer Reviews
On hearing this record my first reaction was one of confusion. Here once again was the Sufjan that I loved, fantastic tunes beautifully sung, and intensely moving. But interspersed with great dollops of electronic squelching, and worst of all, what sounded like vocoder (or perhaps autotune). The overall effect to me was that he had taken a beautiful collection of music and scribbled over it with electronic graffiti. The experience of listening was also rather exhausting. I play a lot of music when I am in the car - and I was finding that I was getting to the end of the Sufjan journeys feeling tired and emotional. But this is Sufjan Stevens, so I persevered.
And then something happened, after about half a dozen listens the songs started to make more sense. The electronic noises became less jarring and the sense of a cohesive vision started to overtake the fear that he might have let self indulgence take over.Read more ›
If you listen to Futile Devices, the opening track, you would think that what I am writing about is a different CD. Its beautiful, breathy and Sufjan at his Illinois best. And then Too Much follows it with electronic squelch, swagger and electronics all over it. Its here you realise the rules of the game have changed. Don't get me wrong. You know its Sufjan, its an evolution of the sound you are used to. But its a real departure that some find too far removed from previous work.
The title track is not my favourite track on the disc. But it pushes this new sound further as do the following tracks, orchestral vocals, electronic sounds swooshing, brass instruments and at the core the voice, the music and the thrill of a man confident enough to push his boundaries. Some of this is quite upbeat. Get real, get right is very much an upbeat number when it gets going. And yes some of these tracks take a while to hit their stride. And may take even longer to grow on you. But give them a chance.
And then this turns into that rare thing. A CD that has a better second half than the first. Vesuvius is a real grower of a track. All for Myself could almost sit well on any Sufjan CD.Read more ›
album after 5 years,one hotly anticipated,considering his near despair a year or two ago at writing songs..Greatly inventive orchestration, providing glittery electronic soundscapes with depths of personal feeling and chorale harmonies, strings and wind arrangements,replete with infusions of manic energy.Here it is track by track:-
1)Futile Devices:guitar-picking,piano,double track voice"Words are futile devices" describes the fallibility of love.Simple opening track.
2)Too Much:Beautiful melodic sound tapestries with musical themes,repetetive song phrases weaving in and out ,with electronic flurries,synthesisers,string connections, distorted trombones,bursts of backing vocals,and climaxing in orchestral breakdown.
3)Age of Adz:Lovely choral sound backing to his poignant voice,string washes and wind instruments elevating the mood,industrial beats emphasising the vocals.
4)I walked:syncopated beat and synthesiser rising and falling.Choir assists Stevens lament the collapse of a love affair over glitchy beats." I'm already dead but I've come to explain why I left such a mess on the floor".Also " I walked away with a knife in my chest".
5)Now that I'm older:sad refrains,subdued tone:"Somewhere I lost whatever else I had".Gentle washing sounds,harmonies of choir.
6)Get Real,Get Right:electronic beat and sound:" Have you mistaken me for someone else?"Military drums,massed backing vocals,wind instruments,rising chords."Get right with the Lord". Apocalyptic.
7) Bad Communication:organ and double-track voice,electronic blips.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Listening to Sufjan Stevens lyrics and compositions is a pleasure. This music is truly music to one's ears.Published 21 days ago by Joyce M. Gleeson-adamidis
Sufjan Stevens is in a class of his own. He does not seem to conform with any style of music and Goes his own way.Published 13 months ago by Hans Westerlaken
I'm going to quote a friends opinion on this album. "Sufjan Stevens' experimental electronic side (as seen on 2001's Enjoy Your Rabbit) finally comes to terms with his softer... Read morePublished on 14 Dec. 2013 by Needle In Groove
The Cd arrived when they said it would. Like new, like it said. So, i am very satisfied with the servicePublished on 10 Dec. 2012 by Manel
I'm surprised by the positive reviews expressed regarding this album. I want so very much to 'like' this album even if not 'love' it like I do (some of) his previous efforts. Read morePublished on 5 Jun. 2012 by Charlie
Until this album came out I was never a huge Sufjan Stevens fan, I enjoyed a few of the songs but found it hard to sustain interest in listening to a whole album. Read morePublished on 16 Oct. 2011 by asdfghjk
I am totally the wrong person to give you an objective view of this album...... I am totally addicted to Sufjan Stevens..... the Age of the Adz gives me such a rush. Read morePublished on 31 Aug. 2011 by firesidefred
Unlike most reviewers I am new to Sufijan Stevens' work and I started writing this after my first listening as this album grabbed me immediately. Read morePublished on 25 July 2011 by Mr. J. Evans