Album Review: Sufjan Stevens, “Age Of Adz” (2010)

I’m not going to lie to you. When I first found out that Sufjan Stevens’ new album, The Age of Adz, had a 25-minute song at the end of the disc, I was wary. Not because I didn’t think all 25-minutes would be awesome (because it’s Sufjan Stevens- everything he touches is AWESOME), but because 25-minutes sounds tedious. 25 minutes? 25 minutes? That’s like a whole re-run of Friends. “I don’t have time for a 25-minute song,” I rationalized to myself. Who does?! What the hell was he thinking?

Then I heard rumors of a “new”sound. I tried to stay away from any reviews prior to listening to the album myself, but online communities I belong to mentioned Stevens’ new sound as “electronic” and “experimental”. What did this mean? Where’s the banjo and stringed instruments? I was scared.

Finally, a few weeks ago I took a trip to Orlando, Florida (to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, no less, but that’s another review), and I decided to load up my iPod with some new music for the 8 hour plane ride. With slight hesitance, I decided to throw Adz in the mix, thinking that, at the very least, if I got tired of listening to the LOST soundtracks and other miscellaneous music, I could give Stevens’ new sound a try. I haven’t looked back since.

Everything I heard about the album prior to listening to it is true; there is a 25-minute track, titled Impossible Soul. And yes, Stevens’ sound has changed. Effect pedals, blips and electric guitar take replace the lush orchestration that we’ve grown to associate with his other albums; the Sufjan Stevens sound we’ve known and loved has changed into something electronic and sounding more like Radiohead’s last albums.

The opener, Futile Devices isn’t really much of an indication of the change in sound, however. The song focuses on some gentle strumming and then hushed vocals. This is the first time in Stevens’ career when we are faced with simplistic lyrics; no flourishes and metaphors are present in this honest song about love (“And I would say I love you/But saying it out loud is hard/So I won’t say it at all/And I won’t stay very long/…And words are futile devices”). The title and ending lines seem to be a general theme for the album- words are, indeed, futile devices- perhaps the reason for the stripping back on lyricism. Either way, the song is a stand out and now one of my favorites in Stevens’ expansive catalog.

The pace is immediately picked up with the next track, and current single, Too Much. A bunch of electronic blips greet us as the song opens and the backing music is almost entirely made up of such effects and a thumping bass line. I never thought I’d say this about a Sufjan Stevens’ song, but this track is…danceable. The chorus consists of the simple repetition of, “There’s too much riding on that/There’s too much, too much, too much love.” But it’s really the sound that’s the focus here. As I said earlier, a lot of Radiohead’s recent work and Thom Yorke’s solo album really come to mind here; I think I would best describe the sounds on this album as Kid A on steroids (I mean that in a good way, of course.) This particular track is 8 minutes long, but you don’t really feel it, especially as half-way through the song, the beat breaks down for a intergalactic-sounding musical interlude.

Title track, Age of Adz, is another favorite of mine. The horns that herald in the track give the track a very epic feeling, which goes well about this apocalyptic song. Stevens has often explored themes about the apocalypse and end of times in his songs, however, the focus is cleared touched here as he sings about eternal living. Stevens has discussed several times that the inspiration for this album was schizophrenic artist, Royal Robertson (Robertson’s artwork is also used for the album cover); Robertson often had “visions” of the future and the world ending, which is reflected in this song. Again, it’s the trumpets that play throughout the song that really make the track, as well as the chorus (“When it dies, when it dies/It rots/And when it lives, and when it lives/It gives it all it gots/This is the Age of Adz/Eternal living”)

The beginning of I Walked sounds almost identical the to beginning of Prince’s 1987 hit, “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” The track does have quite an 80’s feel, with tons of synthesized sounds and a heavy drum loop. This isn’t a bad thing, actually- the sound works well and goes perfectly with the lyrics of a relationship ending (“I walked/’Cause you walked/But I will not probably get very far/…I should not be so lost/But I’ve got nothing to left to love.”) Meanwhile, “Get Real Get Right” is the only song which Stevens specifically dedicated to Robertson on tour, and it’s easy to see that the lyrics were written with the artist in mind (“Saturday night you sleep with a rifle at your side/Delivering speeches, delivering speeches left and right…/Spaceship out the house at night/Prophet speak what’s on your mind”). Despite the song being written for Royal Robertson, I still find the track relevant, particularly during the bridge (“But I must do the right thing/I must do myself a favor and get real/Get right with the Lord”). Stevens’ Christian faith is oft explored in his songs, and though this track doesn’t seem to really be about religion and more about Robertson’s paranoia, the bridge rings true to any Christian’s struggle with life and faith, myself included. The music is appropriately electric and frenzied; an orchestra of sounds you’d only find on a keyboard preset run throughout the background, but the production is done so smoothly that it comes off sounding polished, and not cheesy as you’d most likely expect from the description.

Vesuvius is probably the only song on the album which isn’t straight-forward lyrically; it looks as though Stevens has gone back to his old ways of using metaphors in songs, but the track is still a favorite of mine. In fact, even musically, the song calls to mind some of Stevens’ previous work; the production is stripped down and the emphasis is mostly put on a few simple piano bars and a bit of horns and drums as the song escalates. I’ve read many interpretations of this song (particularly on songmeanings.net, which can be both a place of intelligent discussion and idiotic rambling)- everything from the song being about a deep secret, a struggle with God, and even the literal volcano, though I’m not sure which I really believe (probably not the one about the volcano). Personally, the chorus does sound like its making a lot of religious references (“Vesuvius/Fire of fire/Follow me now/As I favor the ghost…/Why does it have to be so hard?”), and in fact, looking at all the lyrics again, the song definitely seems like a plea to God; a struggle and acceptance with the Christian belief of surrendering oneself in this life in order to have eternal life. Then again, I’ll just leave the interpretation up to each individual person to decide; the beautiful thing about Stevens’ lyrics are that you can often make up your own mind and find your own personal meaning to his songs.

If my iTunes plays are any real indication, the 136 plays for I Want To Be Well might mean that this song is my true favorite on the album. I don’t even remember listening 136 times in the past three weeks, but I know for a fact that I do love this song a whole lot, so perhaps my iTunes isn’t broken. The song is split up into two parts; the first being a frenetic cacophony of computerized sounds and hand clapping. The lyrics are notable (“To figure that it was my fault/Or so I’ve come to realize life is not about/Love with someone (ordinary people are everywhere)”), but honestly, it’s the second half of the song which I always love to listen to. The music breaks and Stevens begins a quite repetition of “I want to be well.” In several interviews Stevens gave around the release of the album, he explained that in the past year he suffered from a mysterious “debilitating” illness, which made him unable to work on music, and halted the work on this album. The pain that Stevens’ suffered during this time is apparent here, and just listening to him sing, “I want to be well” over and over again is heartbreaking. Anyone who has been sick (physically, or even emotionally, for that matter) for a long period of time can sympathize with the feeling of just wanting to be better, wanting to be well. Everyone has made a big fuss over Stevens’ drop of the f-bomb in this song, as after singing, “I want to be well” several times, he goes into singing, “I’m not fucking around.” I was a bit surprised by his use of the word, not because (as I’ve seen others say) he’s a Christian, or because he’s so “gentle” and plays the banjo, but because he must’ve been in a lot of pain while writing this song. The use of the word is so powerful, especially juxtaposed with his wishes to be well. The line resonates deeply, especially when you think of the context in which the song is written. Our body can become a prison, especially when we’re mentally or physically sick in ways we can’t control, and Stevens explores this perfectly in the song.

Sufjan Stevens @ Primavera Sound 2011 (5782054585)

Though the album is only comprised of 11-tracks, I will admit that there are three songs which I’d consider “filler”. The first of which is Now That I’m Older, an odd, echo-y piece which I’ve just never really warmed to. The song has an almost spooky sound- probably due to the echos and organs, and the whole things sort of just creeps me out, especially the first time I listened to it, wide awake at three in the morning in a dark hotel room. Lyrically, the track seems to be about a changing perspective due to age (“It’s different now I think/I wasn’t older yet/I wasn’t wise, I guess”) or Joseph, from the Bible (“The silent man comes down/All dressed in radiant colors/You see it for yourself “), depending on which verse you’re looking at. Honestly, the whole thing is a little too weird, even for me. Bad Communication sounds like its twin; another song with strange echo sounds and lyrics that I don’t even bother paying attention to- in fact, I totally forgot about this song when I first reviewed the album, and only remembered it while proofreading. Meanwhile, All For Myself, is less creepy, but just falls flat. The music is dreary and drab and though Stevens’ voice is lovely to listen to (though it always is), I have no desire to interpret the lyrics (“We set out once forget our shirts with hairy chests and well rehearsed/I want it all I want it all for myself/Out in the earth I smell of you/Of bathing boy, amazing you/I want it all, I want it all for myself “) and most times I just skip the track entirely. What a shame!

And finally, finally we have reached the aforementioned 25-minute epic, Impossible Soul. For those of you who picked up Stevens’ EP, “All Delighted People”, which was released a few months prior to Adz, you’ll already be familiar with “Djohariah”, a 17-minute long song at the end of the disc. Going into this track, I thought of that one, figuring that if I could listen to 17 minutes of that song and not get bored, I could listen to 8 more minutes of of this track and hopefully not get bored either. Honestly, I tend to have musical ADD most times, and the thought of listening to ONE song for almost half an hour is frightening. Luckily Stevens kept this in mind and split Impossible Soul up into five sections, really.

The first section starts off quietly enough and reminds me of a song on his debut disc, “A Loverless Bed (Without Remission)”. The opening lyrics perfectly set the tone (“Oh, woman, tell me what you want/And I’ll calm down without bleeding out/With a broken heart that you stabbed for an hour”) for this first portion of the song, about the end of a complicated relationship. About four minutes into the song, Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond, an indie band on the label Stevens owns, Asthmatic Kitty) comes in and begins singing, “Don’t be distracted, don’t be distracted/Do you want to love me more?” I love Worden’s part of the song, as she sort of acts as the woman whom Stevens’ was signing to in the first part of the song. She comes in and questions Stevens’ doubts of their relationship and it works quite nicely in the track.

The next part of the song made me laugh for maybe the first five or six listens, because- and I hope you’re ready for this- Sufjan Stevens uses Autotune. Yes, the same device made popular by “artists” (the word is in quotes because I use “artists” very loosely in this sense) like T-Pain and Ke$ha is now being used by Stevens, which is weird to get used to. The effect is perfect for this part of the song, as Stevens’ sings about reflection (“Stupid man in the window, I couldn’t be at rest/All my delight, all that mattered, I couldn’t be at rest “), and the Autotune gives the perfect shadowy illusion. However, I couldn’t listen to this part of the song for a few days without thinking of T-Pain singing it and it just always made me laugh. I’d recommend putting all preconceived notions of Autotune aside and just listening to this part of the song with an open-mind, or you just may end up hating it (like several people do).

The next portion of the song definitely redeems the last, as the song suddenly breaks out into a techno beat. If I thought “Too Much” was danceable, I hadn’t heard anything yet! This part of the song is a straight-up dance track- it sounds like something MGMT would release and I LOVE every bit of it. The lyrics are so cheerful and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, inspirational (“It’s a long life, better pinch yourself/Put your face together, better get it right/It’s a long life, better hit yourself/Put your face together, better stand up straight/It’s a long life, only one last chance/Couldn’t get much better, do you wanna dance?”) and I know that I’ll be singing this song in the future as a pick-me-up when I’m feeling down. No matter what mood I’m in, this song always makes me smile, and if you’ve yet to see this performed live, then I beg of you to search for Impossible Soul on YouTube; Sufjan just wants to dance, ya’ll.

The dance music subsides and then fades into the last and final part of the song, a slow-paced acoustic piece which seems like a deliberate throw-back to Stevens’ trademark sound. The banjo is back and Stevens’ voice is alluring and apologetic as he sings, “I never meant to cause you pain/My burden is the weight of a feather/I never meant to lead you on/I only meant to please me, however.” The end of the song is incredibly beautiful and ends the album on a nice full-circle note, having started off with “Futile Devices” and then ending with an similarly stripped back piece.

As a whole, The Age of Adz is a brilliant album. Sufjan Stevens‘ experimentation with sound and lyrics turned out to be an incredibly satisfying journey. I know a few fans were miffed by the change of direction (“What?! No 50 States album?!”), but I don’t think Adz is marking a permanent departure from the banjo and sweet ballads; the end of Impossible Soul seems to be evidence of that. Instead, we are shown that Sufjan Stevens is able to delve into several different genres of music and do so flawlessly, giving me just another reason to absolutely love him.

I’m not going to lie to you. When I first found out that Sufjan Stevens’ new album, The Age of Adz, had a 25-minute song at the end of the disc, I was wary. Not because I didn’t think all 25-minutes would be awesome (because it’s Sufjan Stevens- everything he touches is AWESOME), but because 25-minutes sounds tedious. 25 minutes? 25 minutes? That’s like a whole re-run of Friends. “I don’t have time for a 25-minute song,” I rationalized to myself. Who does?! What the hell was he thinking?

Then I heard rumors of a “new”sound. I tried to stay away from any reviews prior to listening to the album myself, but online communities I belong to mentioned Stevens’ new sound as “electronic” and “experimental”. What did this mean? Where’s the banjo and stringed instruments? I was scared.

Finally, a few weeks ago I took a trip to Orlando, Florida (to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, no less, but that’s another review), and I decided to load up my iPod with some new music for the 8 hour plane ride. With slight hesitance, I decided to throw Adz in the mix, thinking that, at the very least, if I got tired of listening to the LOST soundtracks and other miscellaneous music, I could give Stevens’ new sound a try. I haven’t looked back since.

Everything I heard about the album prior to listening to it is true; there is a 25-minute track, titledImpossible Soul.” And yes, Stevens’ sound has changed. Effect pedals, blips and electric guitar take replace the lush orchestration that we’ve grown to associate with his other albums; the Sufjan Stevens sound we’ve known and loved has changed into something electronic and sounding more like Radiohead’s last albums.

The opener, “Futile Devices” isn’t really much of an indication of the change in sound, however. The song focuses on some gentle strumming and then hushed vocals. This is the first time in Stevens’ career when we are faced with simplistic lyrics; no flourishes and metaphors are present in this honest song about love (“And I would say I love you/But saying it out loud is hard/So I won’t say it at all/And I won’t stay very long/…And words are futile devices”). The title and ending lines seem to be a general theme for the album- words are, indeed, futile devices- perhaps the reason for the stripping back on lyricism. Either way, the song is a stand out and now one of my favorites in Stevens’ expansive catalog.

The pace is immediately picked up with the next track, and current single, “Too Much.” A bunch of electronic blips greet us as the song opens and the backing music is almost entirely made up of such effects and a thumping bass line. I never thought I’d say this about a Sufjan Stevens’ song, but this track is…danceable. The chorus consists of the simple repetition of, “There’s too much riding on that/There’s too much, too much, too much love.” But it’s really the sound that’s the focus here. As I said earlier, a lot of Radiohead’s recent work and Thom Yorke’s solo album really come to mind here; I think I would best describe the sounds on this album as Kid A on steroids (I mean that in a good way, of course.) This particular track is 8 minutes long, but you don’t really feel it, especially as half-way through the song, the beat breaks down for a intergalactic-sounding musical interlude.

Title track, “Age of Adz”, is another favorite of mine. The horns that herald in the track give the track a very epic feeling, which goes well about this apocalyptic song. Stevens has often explored themes about the apocalypse and end of times in his songs, however, the focus is cleared touched here as he sings about eternal living. Stevens has discussed several times that the inspiration for this album was schizophrenic artist, Royal Robertson (Robertson’s artwork is also used for the album cover); Robertson often had “visions” of the future and the world ending, which is reflected in this song. Again, it’s the trumpets that play throughout the song that really make the track, as well as the chorus (“When it dies, when it dies/It rots/And when it lives, and when it lives/It gives it all it gots/This is the Age of Adz/Eternal living”)

The beginning of “I Walked” sounds almost identical the to beginning of Prince’s 1987 hit, “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” The track does have quite an 80’s feel, with tons of synthesized sounds and a heavy drum loop. This isn’t a bad thing, actually- the sound works well and goes perfectly with the lyrics of a relationship ending (“I walked/’Cause you walked/But I will not probably get very far/…I should not be so lost/But I’ve got nothing to left to love.”) Meanwhile, “Get Real Get Right” is the only song which Stevens specifically dedicated to Robertson on tour, and it’s easy to see that the lyrics were written with the artist in mind (“Saturday night you sleep with a rifle at your side/Delivering speeches, delivering speeches left and right…/Spaceship out the house at night/Prophet speak what’s on your mind”). Despite the song being written for Royal Robertson, I still find the track relevant, particularly during the bridge (“But I must do the right thing/I must do myself a favor and get real/Get right with the Lord”). Stevens’ Christian faith is oft explored in his songs, and though this track doesn’t seem to really be about religion and more about Robertson’s paranoia, the bridge rings true to any Christian’s struggle with life and faith, myself included. The music is appropriately electric and frenzied; an orchestra of sounds you’d only find on a keyboard preset run throughout the background, but the production is done so smoothly that it comes off sounding polished, and not cheesy as you’d most likely expect from the description.

“Vesuvius” is probably the only song on the album which isn’t straight-forward lyrically; it looks as though Stevens has gone back to his old ways of using metaphors in songs, but the track is still a favorite of mine. In fact, even musically, the song calls to mind some of Stevens’ previous work; the production is stripped down and the emphasis is mostly put on a few simple piano bars and a bit of horns and drums as the song escalates. I’ve read many interpretations of this song (particularly on songmeanings.net, which can be both a place of intelligent discussion and idiotic rambling)- everything from the song being about a deep secret, a struggle with God, and even the literal volcano, though I’m not sure which I really believe (probably not the one about the volcano). Personally, the chorus does sound like its making a lot of religious references (“Vesuvius/Fire of fire/Follow me now/As I favor the ghost…/Why does it have to be so hard?”), and in fact, looking at all the lyrics again, the song definitely seems like a plea to God; a struggle and acceptance with the Christian belief of surrendering oneself in this life in order to have eternal life. Then again, I’ll just leave the interpretation up to each individual person to decide; the beautiful thing about Stevens’ lyrics are that you can often make up your own mind and find your own personal meaning to his songs.

If my iTunes plays are any real indication, the 136 plays for “I Want To Be Well” might mean that this song is my true favorite on the album. I don’t even remember listening 136 times in the past three weeks, but I know for a fact that I do love this song a whole lot, so perhaps my iTunes isn’t broken. The song is split up into two parts; the first being a frenetic cacophony of computrized sounds and hand clapping. The lyrics are notable (“To figure that it was my fault/Or so I’ve come to realize life is not about/Love with someone (ordinary people are everywhere)”), but honestly, it’s the second half of the song which I always love to listen to. The music breaks and Stevens begins a quite repetition of “I want to be well.” In several interviews Stevens gave around the release of the album, he explained that in the past year he suffered from a mysterious “debilitating” illness, which made him unable to work on music, and halted the work on this album. The pain that Stevens’ suffered during this time is apparent here, and just listening to him sing, “I want to be well” over and over again is heartbreaking. Anyone who has been sick (physically, or even emotionally, for that matter) for a long period of time can sympathize with the feeling of just wanting to be better, wanting to be well. Everyone has made a big fuss over Stevens’ drop of the f-bomb in this song, as after singing, “I want to be well” several times, he goes into singing, “I’m not f-ing around.” I was a bit surprised by his use of the word, not because (as I’ve seen others say) he’s a Christian, or because he’s so “gentle” and plays the banjo, but because he must’ve been in a lot of pain while writing this song. The use of the word is so powerful, especially juxtaposed with his wishes to be well. The line resonates deeply, especially when you think of the context in which the song is written. Our body can become a prison, especially when we’re mentally or physically sick in ways we can’t control, and Stevens explores this perfectly in the song.

Though the album is only comprised of 11-tracks, I will admit that there are three songs which I’d consider “filler”. The first of which is “Now That I’m Older”, an odd, echo-y piece which I’ve just never really warmed to. The song has an almost spooky sound- probably due to the echos and organs, and the whole things sort of just creeps me out, especially the first time I listened to it, wide awake at three in the morning in a dark hotel room. Lyrically, the track seems to be about a changing perspective due to age (“It’s different now I think/I wasn’t older yet/I wasn’t wise, I guess”) or Joseph, from the Bible (“The silent man comes down/All dressed in radiant colors/You see it for yourself “), depending on which verse you’re looking at. Honestly, the whole thing is a little too weird, even for me. “Bad Communication” sounds like its twin; another song with strange echo sounds and lyrics that I don’t even bother paying attention to- in fact, I totally forgot about this song when I first reviewed the album, and only remembered it while proofreading. Meanwhile, “All For Myself”, is less creepy, but just falls flat. The music is dreary and drab and though Stevens’ voice is lovely to listen to (though it always is), I have no desire to interpret the lyrics (“We set out once forget our shirts with hairy chests and well rehearsed/I want it all I want it all for myself/Out in the earth I smell of you/Of bathing boy, amazing you/I want it all, I want it all for myself “) and most times I just skip the track entirely. What a shame!

And finally, finally we have reached the aforementioned 25-minute epic, “Impossible Soul.” For those of you who picked up Stevens’ EP, “All Delighted People”, which was released a few months prior to Adz, you’ll already be familiar with “Djohariah”, a 17-minute long song at the end of the disc. Going into this track, I thought of that one, figuring that if I could listen to 17 minutes of that song and not get bored, I could listen to 8 more minutes of of this track and hopefully not get bored either. Honestly, I tend to have musical ADD most times, and the thought of listening to ONE song for almost half an hour is frightening. Luckily Stevens kept this in mind and split Impossible Soul up into five sections, really.

The first section starts off quietly enough and reminds me of a song on his debut disc, “A Loverless Bed (Without Remission)”. The opening lyrics perfectly set the tone (“Oh, woman, tell me what you want/And I’ll calm down without bleeding out/With a broken heart that you stabbed for an hour”) for this first portion of the song, about the end of a complicated relationship. About four minutes into the song, Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond, an indie band on the label Stevens owns, Asthmatic Kitty) comes in and begins singing, “Don’t be distracted, don’t be distracted/Do you want to love me more?” I love Worden’s part of the song, as she sort of acts as the woman whom Stevens’ was signing to in the first part of the song. She comes in and questions Stevens’ doubts of their relationship and it works quite nicely in the track.

The next part of the song made me laugh for maybe the first five or six listens, because- and I hope you’re ready for this- Sufjan Stevens uses Autotune. Yes, the same device made popular by “artists” (the word is in quotes because I use “artists” very loosely in this sense) like T-Pain and Ke$ha is now being used by Stevens, which is weird to get used to. The effect is perfect for this part of the song, as Stevens’ sings about reflection (“Stupid man in the window, I couldn’t be at rest/All my delight, all that mattered, I couldn’t be at rest “), and the Autotune gives the perfect shadowy illusion. However, I couldn’t listen to this part of the song for a few days without thinking of T-Pain singing it and it just always made me laugh. I’d recommend putting all preconceived notions of Autotune aside and just listening to this part of the song with an open-mind, or you just may end up hating it (like several people do).

The next portion of the song definitely redeems the last, as the song suddenly breaks out into a techno beat. If I thought “Too Much” was danceable, I hadn’t heard anything yet! This part of the song is a straight-up dance track- it sounds like something MGMT would release and I LOVE every bit of it. The lyrics are so cheerful and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, inspirational (“It’s a long life, better pinch yourself/Put your face together, better get it right/It’s a long life, better hit yourself/Put your face together, better stand up straight/It’s a long life, only one last chance/Couldn’t get much better, do you wanna dance?”) and I know that I’ll be singing this song in the future as a pick-me-up when I’m feeling down. No matter what mood I’m in, this song always makes me smile, and if you’ve yet to see this performed live, then I beg of you to search for Impossible Soul on YouTube; Sufjan just wants to dance, ya’ll.

The dance music subsides and then fades into the last and final part of the song, a slow-paced acoustic piece which seems like a deliberate throw-back to Stevens’ trademark sound. The banjo is back and Stevens’ voice is alluring and apologetic as he sings, “I never meant to cause you pain/My burden is the weight of a feather/I never meant to lead you on/I only meant to please me, however.” The end of the song is incredibly beautiful and ends the album on a nice full-circle note, having started off with “Futile Devices” and then ending with an similarly stripped back piece.

As a whole, The Age of Adz is a brilliant album. Sufjan Stevens‘ experimentation with sound and lyrics turned out to be an incredibly satisfying journey. I know a few fans were miffed by the change of direction (“What?! No 50 States album?!”), but I don’t think Adz is marking a permanent departure from the banjo and sweet ballads; the end of Impossible Soul seems to be evidence of that. Instead, we are shown that Sufjan Stevens is able to delve into several different genres of music and do so flawlessly, giving me just another reason to absolutely love him.

Rating: 5 stars

Track Listing
1. Futile Devices
2. Too Much
3. The Age of Adz
4. I Walked
5. Now That I’m Older
6. Get Real Get Right
7. Bad Communication
8. Vesuvius
9. All for Myself
10. I Want to Be Well
11. Impossible Soul

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLyq0xlAa-Y]
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