New Album from Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz

The new album is partially inspired by the artwork of Royal Robertson, a schizophrenic sign-maker and self-proclaimed prophet.
Sufjan Stevens

That Sufjan Stevens has been a busy little boy. First, he announced an ambitious autumn tour. Then he released a nearly 60 minute EP titled All Delighted People that can be listened to for free (or bought for a nominal price). And now, he’s announced a new album titled The Age of Adz that is coming out this fall. From the Asthmatic Kitty website:

The Age of Adz (pronounced odds) is Sufjan Stevens’ first full-length collection of original songs since 2005’s civic pop opus Illinois. This new album is probably his most unusual, first, for its lack of conceptual underpinnings, and second, for its preoccupation with Sufjan himself. The album relinquishes the songwriter’s former story-telling techniques for more primal proclamations unhindered by concepts: there are few narrative conceits or character sketches; there are no historical panoramas, no civic gestures, no literary maneuvers, no expository illustrations drenched in cultural theory, no scene, setting, conflict, resolution, or denouement. Sufjan has stripped away the fabric of narrative artifice for a more primitive approach, emphasizing instinct over craft. The result is an album that is perhaps more vibrant, more primary, and more explicit than anything else he’s done before. The themes developed here are neither historical nor polemical, but rather personal and primal (if even a little juvenile): love, sex, death, disease, illness, anxiety, and suicide make appearances in a tapestry of electronic pop songs that convey a sense of urgency, immediacy, and anxiety as never before seen in this songwriter.

The complete tracklist is below:

  1. Futile Devices
  2. Too Much
  3. 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

Other details worth noting include:

  • The Age of Adz is “unhindered by concepts,” which makes sense given Sufjan’s earlier statements regarding the futility of conceptual albums.
  • The album is more electronic-oriented à la Enjoy Your Rabbit, but still contains brass, string, and choral arrangements.
  • It is partially inspired by the artwork of Royal Robertson, a schizophrenic sign-maker and self-proclaimed prophet.
  • The album ends with the 25-minute “Impossible Soul,” which doesn’t surprise me given Sufjan’s foray into super-extended compositions on All Delighted People.

The Age of Adz will be released by Asthmatic Kitty Records on October 12 (CD, MP3) and November 9 (2xLP). However, if you pre-order the album in the next three weeks, you’ll receive an MP3 download on September 28. (I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.)

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