It’s really not that unusual or left-field that 2010’s The Age of Adz was a heavily-electronic affair; while most people became fans of Sufjan Stevens through indie-folk albums like Michigan and Illinois, he was making electronic music long before on early records such as Enjoy Your Rabbit. Rather than a departure from his signature sound, then, Adz was arguably a return to Sufjan’s roots. And to those that didn’t like his electronic opus, Sufjan’s 2010 All Delighted People EP featured folk-based tunes like “Enchanting Ghost,” ensuring that Stevens could cater to fans on both sides.
Now it’s 2012 and Sufjan has a new track to demonstrate with an equally new partner. His collaboration with Rosie Thomas as part of a greater split 7″, entitled Hit & Run Vol. 1, has resulted in the suitably-named “Where Were You?” and it gels nicely with some of Stevens’ more recent work. It’s a pretty, electronically-touched track featuring both Stevens’ and Thomas’ lovely vocals with an added autotune effect. While autotune can be irritating if used liberally – Sufjan’s own use of it on Adz has been criticised by some – it works nicely here on what can be described as a twinkly, celebratory odyssey with complicated, electronic rhythms and beats. With a lovely swelling chorus and some softer, more emotional segments throughout, it’s typical Sufjan at his finest, even if he’s put down the banjo once again. Thomas proves to be an engaging co-vocalist, granting the song a graceful, feminine gravity. “Where Were You?” is well worth a listen, as it shows that Sufjan is constantly expanding upon his electronic experimentation of late.
By keeping the autotune at a tasteful level and keeping a melancholy tone throughout, Stevens may be entertaining his electronic crowd once again with “Where Were You?” but only those actively looking to be disappointed will find themselves disliking this new release. It’s distinctly a work by Stevens, complimented aptly by Thomas, and it should satisfy both old and new fans. When Hit & Run Vol. 1 eventually hits the shelves it’ll make for a satisfying duet between these naturally comparable artists.