Best of 2010 #7: Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
Grade: B+
Recommended Tracks: Futile Devices, Age of Adz, Now That I'm Older, Vesuvius

With Sufjan Stevens' most recent album The Age of Adz, he would like you to know that he does whatever he wants.

For me, seeing him explore with all the beeps and whistles reminded me of 2001's Enjoy Your Rabbit, and that was cool.  For some (read: @timothykjohnson), on Sufjan's latest effort he is just writing the craziest stuff he can--stuff that's borderline unlistenable--as a social experiment to see if people will step up and say "this sucks". :)  I can definitely understand this sentiment on the 25 minutes album closer "Impossible Soul".  It's got some cool moments, but it's just toooooooo long.

As I listened through this album to determine where it fit into the Best of 2010, I found that several tracks would stay with me throughout the day, would often call me back and make me smile when I found them again.  Finding that hook was like scratching an itch.  And scratching it felt great.

So, for fans of the quiet, serene Sufjan, you can turn to tracks like "Futile Devices" or "Vesuvius".  On "Futile Devices", his use of stringed instruments that are plucked like guitars is genius and something I've always been interested in since I was in orchestra in 12th grade. So, I was excited to hear it being used so effectively.  Here's a fanmade video for "Futile Devices":

For the crazy beeps and whistles that are causing a bit of controversy, turn to what I deem excellent tracks such as "Age of Adz".  On this album, Sufjan is really good at teasing the hooks by putting in subtle allusions to them.  The final payoff when it hits is that much greater because anticipation has been building the entire song. "When he dies…O-A-Ohh."  Here's a live video for "Age of Adz":

Falling somewhere in the middle is "I Want To Be Well".  This song is just shy of a fight song, but still carries you when he emotes "I'm not fucking around".  Great stuff.

The one hook that would just not leave my head was the line "Now that I'm older" from the song of the same. In this live video from around 4:00 on the hook just reverberates.  Does it stay with you as long as it stayed with me?

So, where do you land on the controversy?  Great or crap?
Inspired or unlistenable?

12:03 PM