- The Age of Adz
Although Sufjan Stevens has released ambitious music projects in the last five years, The Age of Adz is his first proper full-length studio album since 2005’s Illinois. To call it traditional would be a mistake, though: Adz is a haphazard patchwork of genres, textures and sounds. Disney-reminiscent orchestration and angelic harmonic trills skate around electronic belches (the title track), robotic programming (“Get Real Get Right”) and primitive synth-pop (the eerie, extraterrestrial “I Walked”)—creating a disorienting clash of whimsical innocence and harsh reality. The dichotomies continue for much of the album: The lovely opener, “Futile Devices,” is two minutes of breathy folk bliss, while closer “Impossible Soul” is a 25-minute track that makes room for Auto-Tune, funk horns and hip-hop touchstones. Adz’s lyrics are just as dense, confused and nonlinear; they appear to touch on desperate love, uncontrolled mental illness and intense conflicting emotions. Is Adz good? Hard to say, at least at first: It’s not an album worthy of a snap judgment—or even critical judgment after several spins. The only way to experience Adz is to become immersed in the music and words, and try to make sense of it after breathing it in a while.