While there were releases in between (EPs, instrumental highway laments), The Age Of Adz is really the first Sufjan Stevens full-length since Illinois. A lot has changed in five years. Clearly his plan to make an album for each U.S. state didn't include this record, which loses more than geographic dedication. Drum machines and beeping bloops replace much of Stevens's cute campfire banjo sounds of yore.
Lead track Futile Devices eases the transition from old to new Stevens, but by the first synthesized buzzes of Too Much, you know we're going someplace different. That said, it's still a Sufjan disc - multi-layered, thoughtfully orchestrated, captivating. In some ways the change in direction makes you feel closer to him than ever - especially if you can digest Impossible Soul, a 25-minute dissection of failed love at the end of this already lofty 75-minute charmer.
Top track: Impossible Soul