Review Summary: Occasionally interesting, but mostly a sonic sedative.
Described by Owl City's Adam Young as the acoustic project of his early music-writing years, An Airplane Carried Me to Bed is his only effort under the name Sky Sailing. The collection of songs was written by Young whilst working at a metal factory and living in his parent's basement - a decidedly unambitious and uninteresting situation.
And so it is with AACMtB: unambitious, but uninteresting" Well, mostly.
The album begins decently enough with 'Captains of the Sky', a straightforward track full of Young's signature quirky lyrics, "I woke up beneath the flight deck/ of a wallpaper airplane", "Dive bomb, we descended down the staircase/ and crashed to the kitchen floor". It's mildly entertaining on the first track, however it quickly becomes tiresome as the record trudges on and will most likely cause the eyes of anyone previously unconvinced by Owl City's wordplay to roll in all directions - or become entirely shut in deep slumber.
But such individuals might not want to switch off entirely, as while the characteristic turbid fluffiness is repeated on many occasions over the 38-minute runtime, things get marginally more interesting when Young shakes off his preoccupation with fuzzy lyrics and decides to play with the instrumentation a bit. Album highlight 'I Live Alone' speaks in simple terms of dealing with solitude and regret, and properly integrates layered acoustic guitars and piano hooks to create a strong bridge section. Whilst by no means sop-free, 'Explorers' is a competent effort that finds Young musing on the past, "This old mountainside/ where we used to reside/ is slowly recalling the things we discovered inside/ the crystal caves". Although his descriptive language often doesn't work, on the occasions when it does, Young's ability to conjure vivid scenes to convey an emotion can be quite poignant.
Unfortunately these instances are at best occasional. The snooze worthy 'Blue and Red' with its boring instrumentation and even less interesting lyrics ("Dreams never die when we sleep") will leave even the most ardent Adam aficionado yawning. The last two tracks are exceptionally banal, exploring themes as deep as getting towed downstream by stars and even sailboats wishing
they were stars. Like many tracks on the album, they follow a cut-out song construction peppered with tinkling keys. They're adequate, but little more can be said of them than that.
So it is with vocals as well. Throughout AACMtB, Mr Young's familiar breathy tenor croons lovelorn lyrics, but it invariably sounds exactly the same.
Although it wouldn't be entirely fair to expect a great deal vocally from him, it seems reasonable enough to have expected a little more emotional investment in the delivery, especially considering that he speaks so fondly of these songs on his website.
This, coupled with the aforementioned uninteresting and even laughable lyricism, creates a general sleepiness and boredom that permeates most of the record which, unfortunately, the few good songs cannot save from mediocrity. Hell, maybe it's meant to be that way - the title would certainly suggest it. However, to make it just that little bit more apt, it could easily be retitled 'An Album Carried Me to Bed'.