It's been a long time coming but finally I have a cool blog that I can call my own. Most people reading will already know who I am. Discussions of hip hop and life will usually take place here when I have things to talk about.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Is out for the general public in all good record shops and Itunes on October 12th but that doesn't mean that you have to wait to hear exactly what Mr. Stevens has been doing for the past 5 odd year since the release of his last "proper" album Illinoise. You can listen to the album here.

Essentially to sum up the record it is an egcentric mix of electronic sounds, skittering drum loops, and casio lines with the classic layered instrumentation that defined his classic work on Michigan and Illinoise. It's a bit hard to chew and will definitely divide fans over it's merits. For some it'll be a little too straighforward (I heard a few people compare the single "I Walked" to Owl City), and yet for others too eclectic (If you can even use that term in comparison to his past work). A lot of people would be happy to see Illionoise Pt 2 (or was that Avalanche). Sorry, but Illinoise it ain't, but it's still a very good record. I heard one person call this Sufjans Kid A if Illinoise was his Ok Computer. Lastly 11 songs ranging from 2 to 25 minutes might make this an daunting task.

Futile Devices
Might be the prettiest thing on here. A simple guitar loop is augmented by a piano and nice vocals. The only knock against it is that it is too short at 2:13. I would of be nice to see him build this up a little more. 8/10

Too Much
The electronic production begins here with watery blips and casio synths layered over the loop. It's a nice song but with a melody similar to fireflies by Owl City isn't gonna help to prevent unfair comparisons. There is just too much (forgive the pun) here to dismiss as teeno (teen/emo) pop, particularly at the end when he launches the whole arrangement into outer space (perhaps literally). 7/10

The Age of Adz
An epic journey through the career of Sufjan. The drum loops and synth blips are here, but this is secondary to the horns, epic angelic vocals, and whatever else Sufjan throws into 8 minutes of epic chamber pop. Can't really describe it more than that, you gotta listen. 10/10

I Walked
The lead single that was released a month ago. It's a fine song....catchy enough. It's pretty straightforward for a Sufjan song with a basic electronic loop and Sufjan vocalizing over top. 6/10

Now That I'm Older
I think classic Disney cartoons like Bambi when I here this....especially with the vocals floating over the top of the arrangement. Then Sufjan warps it into a lament so perhaps Bambi and Thumper just met their maker. 8/10

Get Real, GetRight
Another electronic track with nice flourishes over the top. Let's face it, if you don't like what you've heard so far there isn't gonna be too much here to convince you otherwise. I'm looking for a hook on this and can't really find just kind of meanders on. The scenesters will eat it up. 5/10

Bad Communication
Not much happens here really and I'm kind of glad it's only 2:24. A skip track for me. Think "I Walked" slowed down and no drum loop with freaky vocals around it. 3/10

A nice acoustic number that builds the electronic elements in later to compliment it. Helps to restore the album after the past two weaker songs. 8/10

All For Myself
I really like this song, so much that I may sample the opening choral. Still very electronic but a great hook, melody, and wonderful acoustic elements make this memorable. 10/10

I Want to be Well
The drums although heavily distorted drive the song forward which makes this a nice and lively number. It would be nice if a hook was here. I really don't understand what is wrong with having nice hooks in a song....are we afraid of selling out or something. The build at the end is very good. 8/10

Impossible Soul
At 25 minutes this is more of a mini-suite rather than a song. It meanders through electric pop, to lush synth melodies, to balladry, to a full blown scenester rave up, before settling into a nice acoustic ending. Hard to rate it on first listen because it's a mammoth of a thing. I will say it held my interest for most of it, which is a plus. 7/10

So in whole "The Age of Adz" is an interesting listen. One that might not totally come together on one, two, or even a dozen listens....if at all. I like the album from a first listen overall, but I'm not in love with it. Credit to Sufjan for trying to do different things with this album and such and when it works....more often than not it's a great ride. 7/10