As buzz for The Age of Adz built on the heels of the All Delighted People release, I found two leaked songs from the yet-to-be-released LP: "Too Much" and "I Walked."

With only those two tracks at my disposal, I already knew Sufjan was crafting music with a beauty he'd never had before. The cacophony of orchestral sounds was newly confronted by a wall of spastic digital noise, a contrast he had only touched on more abstract endeavors like Enjoy Your Rabbit. He had always been purposeful; but these tracks felt like culminations of every sound with which he'd ever played.

Upon the album's release, acclaim flooded in from all sides; but instead of attacking the album, as I had been dying to do since the moment I first read Royal Robertson's name, I chose a single track. And then another, and another, and over the course of a few months, I slowly absorbed the perfection each one had to offer. When I had but one left, the epic "Impossible Soul," I couldn't even bring myself to finish it, for I knew that, when it was done, the album would lose a factor of novelty: I would have experienced everything Sufjan had offered me, and I would have to wait another unknown amount of time for new material to arise once more.

I was wrong.

Each track is perfect, so perfect that every time is the first time; every song is its own enclosed narrative, its own little world to enter whenever my surroundings beg for a visit.

The Age of Adz is not an album made up of ten tracks. The Age of Adz is not even an album. The Age of Adz is Sufjan Steven's autobiography; it is a tale told within the frame of a schizophrenic, Royal Robertson, who loses his wife and devolves into madness before being reborn, but it is the story of Sufjan Stevens, an artist who loses himself and must devolve into madness before he can be reborn.

Each track is beautiful, yes; but listen to each song in accordance to every other song on the album, and the album stops being an album. It transcends its medium more than any piece of art I've seen recently; listen to it again, and again, and again, and don't ever stop.

Main Rules:

  • Every sound and word has multiple meanings, and each beat, instrument, pause and tempo change is equally as important as the vocals and lyrics in deducing meaning.

  • Sufjan's voice is the only voice to be trusted on the album, although that does not mean Sufjan is always correct.

  • Each song title's multiple meanings are key in understanding the album: for example, "The Age of Adz" can be interpreted as "The Era of Ads," as in a time dominated by visual and aural bombardment (the correct pronunciation of "Adz" is odds, but I am assuming Sufjan purposely chose a word that appeared differently to how it sounded); or "The Aging of Adz," as in the album being a tale of the growth of a creative self, either S.S. or R.R.; or "The Age of Odds," as in what seems to Sufjan a time in his life where everything seemed random (odds, as in "chance") and he was conflicted within himself (odds, as in "at odds").
  • top