2010 has turned into quite a pleasant year for indie music fans. In the past couple months we have been given not one, but two Sufjan Stevens records. And this time, neither are a collection of b-sides, a remixing of previous work, or an instrumental tribute to a historical landmark (not that I didn’t appreciate each of those efforts).
First we were given the All Delighted People EP, which is a bit of a misnomer for an 8-track collection that clocks in right under an hour in length. This album for me serves perfectly as a pre-cursor to the forthcoming Age of Adz. While it includes a couple tunes that the die-hard fans have been hearing on tour for the past few years (“All Delighted People” and “The Owl and the Tanager”), it also gives a glimpse into the many different musical landscapes in which Sufjan has been playing in. Along with his usual piano, banjo, and string arrangements, People is littered with horns, choirs, and even has a killer electric guitar solo. For those who haven’t paid any attention to anything Stevens has done since 2005’s Illinois, this album may come as a bit of a shock, and may be a bit of a slow burner, but it is definitely worth your time and patience.
And finally this past month, we were blessed with Stevens’ first official full-length collection of previously unreleased original songs in 5 years. The Age of Adz (pronounced odds) like much of his previous work, is a concept album. Leaving behind the ostentatious states project, he finds a different muse in the schizophrenic painter Robert Royal. It is still a very personal record but it is told through the voice Royal. Coinciding with the shift in content, the album takes an even bigger and darker sonic shift than All Delighted People. This record is much more electronic and we get to hear Stevens play around with synthesizers, drum machines, and even auto-tune, none of which comes off kitschy or trite. It is a very sincere album, that just permeates your whole mind and body. Beware you may even find yourself wanting to dance a time or two while listening to this record. Below you can listen to one of my favorite tracks off of Age of Adz.
Sufjan Stevens – Too Much (removed 7/21/12)