Review Summary: Owl City's fourth release, second on a major label, switches up his sound in a couple places but mostly plays it pretty safe; a little too safe. Most listeners have already decided to either love it or dismiss it. Personally, I'm still a supporter.3 of 4 thought this review was well written
Ah, Owl City. His attempts to make sweet and non-controversial music have ironically made him one of the most polarizing artists on the scene. I was as curious as anyone else when I first caught wind of Adam Young's one-man electropop confection. Is he twelve and high? Was he home schooled? Is he just mentally stunted?
Truth is, he's just that sort of person. In his own words, he's a devout Christian, "high on the spirit," and those themes appear in some of his songs - particularly in "Galaxies" on this album and "Meteor Shower" on his last. He also explains that he prefers to simply write about his daydreams instead of "the bad days I'm inevitably plagued with just like anyone."
Now, does he do it well?
I think so. It sure makes ME happy, listening to it. I'm not even a Christian, or especially optimistic by nature otherwise. It's just pure escapism, and it doesn't aim to be much more.
The guy knows how to write a pop song with bubbly electronic elements, even if they sound a little too much like one another at times. His range is limited, but his grasp of melody and production techniques are strong. However much you liked or hated "Fireflies," that song did not leave your head for weeks, and I'm willing to bet that more than a few of the vocal haters secretly went "awwww" when they heard "Vanilla Twilight" and its Myspace-ready lyric "the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly."
When it comes to he and The Postal Service, I feel the comparisons are lazy. I love Gibbard and Tamborello's album and wish they'd do another, but there's just not much in common between the two artists thematically or melodically.
This album is more of the Owl City same. I won't go through this track-by-track, because at this point you already know if you'll like it or not. I feel critical reaction to it, which is all over the board leading to a rating in the 50s on Metacritic, reflects this too. Critics went in with a certain feeling about Young already established, and that was shown in their scores.
I'll just say that the top 3 tracks are "Angels," with its expansive production and slick arpeggios running beneath the verses, "The Yacht Club" for the fist-pumping vibe and guest vocals from Lights, and "Kamikaze" for breaking a little bit from the Owl City form and doing something more ambient and downbeat. The version of "Alligator Sky" with rapper Shawn Christopher helps shake it up a bit, too, and "Plant Life" is a nice piano waltz with a lovely bridge.
Where Young goes from here is anyone's guess. His fate as a one-hit wonder was sealed two years ago, and this album is preordained by fate to not do as well. I'd like to see him go back to his roots a little more and put out another album like "Maybe I'm Dreaming," which is a little less poppy and more cerebral. More "indie," if you like.
3.5 out of 5. Listen if you'll like it.