Average User Score: 8.3Oct 26, 2010This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I heard about Sufjan Stevens' recent tour the same day I heard about his new EP and album. After so long since anything new, I was stuck in this weird, phosphorescent void of recollecting his "oldies" as if they happened yesterday. I immediately bought tickets to the show (FRIDAY!), and figured I should buy the new album before seeing the show, figuring he would be doing more songs from the album and EP in promotion.
I popped the CD in my car's stereo as I took a strange, unsolicited journey back home two hours to the coast. Having only heard the opening track, I got to feel the thrill of hearing a song for the first time, only duplicated tenfold by an entire album. "Futile Devices" is, really, the only recollection of "the old Sufjan" that so many people are **** about. A beautiful, atmospheric ode to simple love.
"Too Much" begins a long string of songs that any long-time Sufjan fan would understand as nothing new, just expanded. The electronics scream over the blaring brass, much like "Enjoy Your Rabbit" touched on, except that instead of purely experimental noise, Stevens finds a perfect balance between his lofty dreamscapes by complimenting them with raucous cacophony, and it works.
"Age of Adz" and "I Walked" swell to the eventual choirs of "Get Right Get Real" (a throwback to religion and Sufjan's God complex) and "Vesuvius", which tapers to a softer interlude of "All For Myself" before the album's nearly orgasmic climax of "I Want to Be Well". A master of tricky time signatures and odd arrangements, Sufjan shows off with, more than likely, his rawest track to date. Filled with droning, cussing ("I'm not **** around..."), and swirling orchestration, you'll need a cigarette by the end.
As your enjoying that breath of fresh air, breathing a sigh of afterglow relief, he lets you rest your weary head with the epic, 25-minute "Impossible Soul". Built of five parts, opening with a very quiet, steady 4/4 electric piano sonnet, it builds to an Auto-Tune interjection, to which upon first listen, I actually proclaimed "What the hell is he doing?!" Raunchy guitar, chanting choruses, and a breathtaking outro of beautiful strings (guitars? mandolins? violins?), it fades out, with you wanting to start the whole thing over again.
For those who thought "Illinoise", once proclaimed as the decades best album, was his magnus opus... "The Age of Adz" may be a contender. I change of pace, for sure, but nonetheless, a mindblowing masterpiece, and an easy candidate for a Grammy. It's been a long time since I've felt as emotionally moved by an album as this has left me feeling. A total body high.… Expand