Sufjan Stevens

The Age of Adz

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue the genuineness of Sufjan Stevens. On The Age of Adz, his sixth studio effort, the Michigan-born songwriter manages to not only maintain his earnestness but stretch himself far outside his so-called “comfort zone.” A long-held master of baroque pop, Stevens certainly does not skimp on the theatrics here. “Vesuvius” is classic Sufjan balladry, slow building and layered with choral vocals that shout out to their maker (“Sufjan, follow your heart, follow the flame, or fall on the floor”). But, it’s the electronics that truly push Adz to new heights. The title track is an epic score of robot sounds and programmed beats, while “I Walked” finds one of Stevens’s hopeless love letters set to drum-pad flourishes and reverb-heavy vocal loops, in addition to the 10-piece backing band. Come track 10 and Stevens’s yelps of “I’m not fucking around,” it’s tough to believe anyone would ever have thought otherwise.

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