It's 2010, so indie rock fans should be used to disappointment. The new Broken Social Scene record? Maybe one play around the turntable. The inexplicably ongoing Glo-Fi/Chill-Wave craze? Supremely underwhelming.
When All Delighted People, Sufjan Stevens' statusquotastic EP arrived on my Internet device, I was braced for disappointment, and disappointment was what I got. Though some welcomed Stevens' return to the orchestral indie-folk form he helped invent, the EP feels trite and halfhearted. I struggled to muster the yawn it deserves. My bitterness was such that when Sufjan announced The Age of Adz several weeks ago and streamed it from NPR well ahead of its scheduled release date, I ignored it. My soul couldn't take another blow to the solar plexus.
The twin engines of boredom and curiosity pulled me to NPR some days later, where I listened, rapt, to the Age of Adz in its entirety. Eschewing lush orchestration for synthy experimentation and plucked banjos and whispery woodwinds for processed drums, Sufjan's new sound is a creative lateral pass to a wide open halfback. In "I Walked" Stevens cleverly builds sound upon sound, voice upon voice, exercising both restraint and outstretched optimism before beautifully falling apart at the end. Listen and Sufjan will poke some much-needed holes in 2010's black cloak of disappointment and cynicism.
on iTunes: Sufjan Stevens / "I Walked"
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