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Meta Four

initial impressions on Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz

Listen at Suf's Bandcamp page

This is gonna be different from every other "review" I've done thus far, because I'm writing down my reactions to the very first listen.

If anyone reading this seriously needs background info on Sufjan Stevens, this wiki article already has everything I would have said. The end of a musical hiatus and a New Sound Album, blah blah blah.

So, let's listen.

"Futile Devices": Sounds folkier than I expected.

"Too Much": Sounds a bit different than I remember the preview on Bandcamp being. Busier. Still cool.

Ah, it's the 4:30 mark, and here is where Suf starts sampling from The BQE. Awesome.

"Age of Adz": Now THAT's an epic opening. After five minutes, it dials back a bit.

"I Walked": Heard this one on Bandcamp, too. Still good.

"Now that I'm Older": Floaty and ethereal and directionless. First song on the album that I don't like.

I'll probably warm up to it later.

"Get Real Get Right": The electronic beats are back, as are the BQE samples.

"Bad Communication": ...

"Vesuvius": ...

Man, I'm no good at this.

"I Want to Be Well": Real drums.

I'm not fucking around!
Suf was not at the top of the list of musicians that I never expected to hear sing those words, but he was close. I guess he's taking after Rafter.

"Impossible Soul": Ah, the fabled 25-minute thing.

Is this the autotuned part? I can't really tell.

Hey, Sufjan's singing his own backing vocals!

And now it's going all glitchy. A minimalist interlude, perhaps? Sort of.

Ah, this is the auto-tuned part.

Okay, the middle portion of this song is far better than advertised.

Everybody sing-along! Digging that funky brass.

And it's back to folky for the ending.

IN CONCLUSION: I expect the earlier tracks will take time to grow on me, but "Impossible Soul" has convinced me that Sufjan's got his groove back. I'm happy.

Note from December 2010: After many many more listens, I no longer think Suf is sampling from The BQE; it sounds more like they're new orchestral bits that just sound similar. Also, "Now that I'm Older" is still my least favorite song. And "Vesuvius", which went in one ear and out the other on my first listen, is actually quite sublime.