The Age of Adz is not a "middle finger" to fans, but it IS a dividing listeners into two groups: those who wish for "the old Sufan" of his Illinois or Michigan days--and those who are taking this schizophrenic future and running with it.
For the nostalgic, the acoustic love intro "Futile Devices" may not be enough balance to sit through the distortions, synthesizers and cacophony of "Age of Adz." But for those who embrace it, the daunting 25-minute journey of "Impossible Soul" (being performed live in its entirety on the current tour) is incredibly rewarding and heartfelt at its core.
Themes of love, sex, death, and the apocalypse feature prominently on a tightly woven narrative of songs more orchestral than Illinois and more personal than Seven Swans. The familiarity of what those two albums offered may seem cold comfort compared to the thrilling novelty of Sufjan wailing "I'M NOT FUCKING AROUND!" 16 times on "I Want To Be Well."
The expectations we leave behind will allow us to more fully explore this fantastic, futuristic post-genre soundscape Sufjan is creating. He's taking us forward with all the bells and whistles--plus some synthesizers and dancing.
Sufjan Stevens - I Want To Be Well.mp3
Oh, and I refreshed the download links to 2008's Songs for Christmas: Vol VIII for your holiday pleasure. Enjoy!