The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    What Sufjan did in The Age of Adz is so beautiful and rich and complicated; he ended up telling the story of what life is for so many people who just end up turning the gears of the larger machine.
  2. If the point of music is for us to take something from it - whether it be an emotional response or a change in mindset or any sort of inspiration - then The Age Of Adz is the most selfless album ever recorded, and Sufjan is the most giving composer.
  3. After all those years that people remarked and possibly, tried to shut him out, Stevens has returned with what just might be the best music he has ever crafted.
  4. Musically and lyrically, The Age of Adz is exhilarating, challenging, and thought-provoking.
  5. The Age of Adz complements rather than distracts from the heartrending melodies and ambitious orchestration underneath.
  6. It's what you hope for from your favorite artists in your best moments -- evolution, a little difficulty and, especially, something new.
  7. The Age of Adz is an outrageously fun and messy masterpiece.
  8. What makes The Age of Adz an exception rather than some blatant hat-tip to those artists is Stevens's quirky trademarks.
  9. Each pass cements that Stevens has done the impossible yet again: He's released another album that's both genre-defining and genre-defying.
  10. Dec 23, 2010
    Stevens ventures widely on this 85-minute disc to find the best way to express what turn out to be basic home truths.
  11. Oct 22, 2010
    Sufjan's proficiency with larger-than-life arrangements has always been one of his strongest qualities as a musician, and across The Age of Adz he wields that proficiency, brazenly, like a kind of weapon.
  12. As important questions about music's worth in the age of free continue to swirl around him, Sufjan's still combating instant-gratification culture the best way he knows how.
  13. Dec 20, 2010
    Dazzling with its intensity, the futuristic splice of swooping symphonics and grimy looped percussion once again sets Stevens in his own orbit. [Dec 2010, p.114]
  14. Oct 25, 2010
    The Age of Adz sonically recalls Enjoy Your Rabbit, where Stevens indulged in more electronics. In other words, neither sounds much like Illinois, with all of its sprightly tunes and exclamation points. [Fall 2010, p.63]
  15. With such brilliantly explicit expositions of death, loneliness and faith in his words, there's more than enough here to soften the blow about that other thing he was supposed to do.
  16. The Age of Adz is not an unqualified success; occasionally it does feel like a little too much, and until the dust has settled it is difficult to say where it will sit in his discography as a whole.
  17. Tt's refreshing to hear him so candid, even if that forthrightness is festooned by enough bells and whistles to wake the dead.
  18. You emerge from the other side of it glad not just that Stevens continued to make music, but that he chose to follow his muse to such a radical, potentially divisive place.
  19. In some ways the change in direction makes you feel closer to him than ever – especially if you can digest Impossible Soul, a 25-minute dissection of failed love at the end of this already lofty 75-minute charmer.
  20. Stevens inspiration or jumping off point for The Age of Adz was outsider artist Royal Robertson, and, much like Robertson's artwork, the themes in the album vacillate between the mundane and heartfelt and surreal and grandiose.
  21. As an expression of a restless artist trying to stretch his own limits, The Age Of Adz is simultaneously admirable and exhausting.
  22. Jan 11, 2011
    The combination is ethereal and transcendent.
  23. Dec 21, 2010
    Where he used be be so proficient at letting us hear the sound of his sad, sad heart, the directionless elliptical clutter that defines The Age of Adz just sounds to me like he's manufacturing an idea of what a sad heart might sound like. What's worse, it sounds self-indulgent.
  24. 70
    Stevens sated his jam-band jones in a borderline amusing way on August's All Delighted People EP, but here all the engine-revving too often feels lazy, especially considering how vibrantly he embraces the album's fresh musical direction elsewhere.
  25. 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.
  26. It's a semiconcept record, using work by the artist Royal Robertson as a springboard for music that evokes a visionary psyche.
  27. The Age of Adz builds on his previous dabblings in electronica by integrating the ideas he has clearly been stewing with the aspects of his work so dear to fans.
  28. Casual fans looking to prolong the artful mellow of the gently plucked art-folk and strutting orchestral pop the precious singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens laid down on previous records might be lulled into a false calm as this record opens.
  29. 60
    The Age Of Adz, by contrast, is problematic for its mind-boggling ambitions, as Stevens harnesses his folkier songcraft and complex orchestration to electronica. [Nov. 2010, p. 100]
  30. 60
    The downside of Stevens' inward journey is that it seems to have eroded his confidence, leading to a maddening tendency to sabotage his best tunes. [Nov 2010, p.82]
  31. Like its concluding song, The Age of Adz is occasionally transfixing, but overall inconsistent.
  32. Sure there's some nice stuff here and no one ever said Stevens lacked ideas. But I'm telling you that despite this, The Age of Adz is a major misfire from an artist of uncommon depth and talent.
  33. With The Age Of Adz, Stevens may simply be trying too hard.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 124 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 47
  2. Negative: 5 out of 47
  1. Oct 13, 2010
    I'm not sure how or why anyone would rate an album without actually listening to it first. Why even waste your time posting a review. This album is a 10 and any BS vote of 6 without any frame of reference besides Sufjan's former album from 5 years ago is not accurate and meaningless. Full Review »
  2. Oct 13, 2010
    A soul searching, heartfelt, electronic masterpiece- with Sufjan's trademarks all over the album. I really liked Illinoise!, but I think I love The Age of Adz. Full Review »
  3. Oct 19, 2010
    This may be a divisive and unexpected album, but I love the experimentation and the heart-on-the-sleeve mentality of it. I find it very amusing that some people are thinking Sufjan is now suddenly acting "unpredictable" and " weird." Come on people, he's always been that way, people. This is a guy who named one of this songs: "A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze." I don't think you should be freaked about by some electronic elements or autotune. Full Review »