Does this mean he’ll be packing up the electronica? Stevens, who’s been alternately critiqued and lauded for the explosive, experimental Age of Adz album released earlier this year, stayed away from the synthesizers for this WNYC Soundcheck session, playing a couple of subdued acoustic tracks with the National’s Bryce Dessner and friends. Stevens explained that the more traditionally Sufjan-sounding songs off his 2010 EP All Delighted People were written at the same time as Age of Adz, but he made the decision, based on aesthetics, to keep the projects separate. Stevens also emphasized (and performed) what he calls two folk “bookends” on Age of Adz, (“Futile Devices” and “Pleasure Principle,”) telling WNYC that the tracks were intended to sandwich the “pop chaos” in between. “I’m still a folk songwriter,” Stevens said.
Perhaps this highlights Stevens’ two last Adz performances Aug. 2 and 3 in Prospect Park as the end of his own personal season of pop chaos, and a return to, well, folk normalcy. But keep in mind that normalcy for Stevens (even the folky kind) has always entailed singular beauty, ambitiousness and innovation. So, while it may be a little early to assume he’s done with the neon lightshows, enjoy the new, old-school Sufjan in the meantime. He’s still in there, even if he is wearing pants that glow in the dark.