Review Summary: Owl City took a risk deciding to release multiple EP'S instead of a full LP, but it might've just paid off.
Owl City hasn't exactly been on the bright-side of the music industry for some time since his 2008 debut "Maybe I'm Dreaming", with his dreamy, relaxing synths which whisked you off to some dream world filled with castles and double-rainbows. Sure, you could say that his 2009 album "Ocean Eyes" was solid, with the smash hit "Fireflies" leading the charge and maybe perhaps you even enjoyed that summer anthem "Good Time" with Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen back in 2011. Other than that, the electro-pop project hasn't exactly garnered much commercial success nor acclaim with his last two albums not making a dent in the Top 40 and were both panned by critics (and even fans) alike. It doesn't help that he writes mostly random things that have no relevance nor relation to his music, which his electronica style has been compared obviously to The Postal Service which only further fueled the fire for critics. While his use of synths is undoubtedly good, you can only write about random things for so long and hiding it with poetic lyricism until the music community gets sick of it and moves on to the next big pop act. Two years pass after the failure that was his last LP "The Midsummer Station", and to the delight (or potential dismay) to fans of Owl City he decides to put out a EP instead of a full-borne LP. Set to be the first of EP's being released in 2014, "Ultraviolet" sees Adam Young delivering once again musically, mixing a bit of the mainstream sounds of his more recent LP'S with the style of his more critically-regarded material. The result" A long-awaited return to form and a surprising success.
"Ultraviolet" features four tracks that are definitely designed for the summer-time, a la "Ocean Eyes" and "The Midsummer Station". "Beautiful Times" comes out as a pretty obvious highlight, thanks to the collaboration with violinist Lindsey Stirling delivering beautiful layers of violin, giving the upbeat, mystical track a more organic edge to it. While musically-speaking it's pretty good, the weak lyrics litterally kill it with it's nonsense talk about "restoring life to the lifehouse" and other awkward talk. Considering the music community hasn't embraced anything with random lyrics and topics since LFO's "Summer Girls" (one line about NKOTB having a bunch of hits, the next about how Chinese food makes you sick), it's definitely pretty disappointing to see Young put out a lyrically-mediocre performance like that. It doesn't matter if you can deliver musically or you add the next big pop vocalist (or in this case, violinist); if the lyrics have no meaning behind the music you essentially have no song. Fortunately, the mediocre lyricism in "Beautiful Times" is short-lived, with the rest of the EP delivering both lyrically and musically-speaking: something we haven't seen Young do in a very long time. The fun track "Up All Night" sees Young delivering pretty solid lyrics, while still incoporating the poetical edge which is well-known for. While the lyrics may sometimes sound corny, it easily breaks out as the best in the EP. "This Isn't The End" goes down a considerably darker and slow route, not like the ballad "Silhouette" from his last LP but definitely nothing like his more uplifting material and delivers, talking about fathers leaving their families behind. "Wolf Bite" sees Young talk about his Christian faith again, as he's done many times before with tracks like "Angels" from "All Things Bright And Beautiful". Another standout lyrical performance is seen by Adam, asking plenty of soul-searching questions in the track and definitely more spiritual than previous tracks on his faith.
"Ultraviolet" may be a short 15-minute offering of Owl City tracks, but it surprisingly shines. Young is starting to shy away a bit from the mainstream pop sounds that have ravaged his previous material, and while a bit of it is still clearly noticeable in the EP, it's actually pretty mimimal. The songwriting has been a massive problem for awhile, but it's not all that bad with an exception of "Beautiful Times". Owl City is able to bring the poetical edge which he's been doing since his inception, while also delivering profound and deep meanings in his music which hasn't really been seen since his 2008 debut. After those two lackluster albums with "All Things Bright And Beautiful" and "The Midsummer Station", it was pretty hard to determine if Owl City was ever gonna avert back to the former self of "Ocean Eyes" and "Maybe I'm Dreaming". After a pretty decent sample of his material with "Ultraviolet", this one-man electro-pop band may have done just that, and if he keeps releasing more material like this with his future EP's in the coming months, Adam Young might just find himself back in the good graces of the music community again.
Album Rating: 3.5
Damn, it's been awhile since I last reviewed anything on music! But decided to take a month off so I can actually enjoy my summer vacation. It was fun, but I was itching to return to music-reviewing again so glad to be back. Plenty of albums I'm reviewing this month, have Ariana Grande's new album on my radar and planning to review it ASAP along with other material. As for hip-hop albums, I'm gonna review Common's new album so stay tuned.
As for Ultraviolet, it's definitely hard to think that Owl City actually pulled off a success with this EP. Believe me, I thought All Things Bright And Beautiful along with the Midsummer Station were both terrible, but this one definitely is a promising sign of Adam Young's return to form.
Welcome back dude, glad to see you reviewing again! Have a pos.
and to the delight (or potential dismay) to fans Owl City
of Owl City fans*
it's definitely pretty disappointing to see Young put out a lyrically-mediocre performance like that.
But I thought that was kind of the point when discussing why his previous work failed?
Other than those couple kinks, you've got yourself a sweet review there mate. Pos
Album Rating: 3.5
@Froot: Thanks for finding that error on my intro paragraph of the review. Sometimes even after reading it through before posting I don't catch those mistakes so thanks again for that. Yeah, it was kinda of the point of why Young's previous material failed but I wanted to re-emphasize that with "Beautiful Times" since it ended up sucking lyrically.
@Judio!: Thanks again my friend. Glad to be analyzing albums and putting my thoughts on it into a nice review again. May actually seriously consider majoring in journalism because of this, possibly in the music realm. It would definitely be fun to do something like that, instead of having to crunch numbers for hours on end. Hoping to keep getting better in reviewing here so in college if I major in journalism the numerous feedback will have been beneficial to me doing well to acquire that diploma.
Cool, man. Best of luck to ya!
sweet should really check this out given I've been wanting a return to form for a while. spelling error in the summary but otherwise have a pos
return to form
Digging: Hot Chip - A Bath Full of Ecstasy
so this= a return to form? sweet gotta 1.5
And he's back! Will read the review ASAP.
Digging: Boris S.G - Vega Neon Light
Well, I've read it now. Great review man, pos'd.
Definitely a well written review, I know this because some how it convinced me to check out an Owl City song which is quite amazing.
hey rudy you've seen my (poorly-written) owl city 3.5 correct? I'd also prob give Ocean Eyes a 3 cause guilty pleasure jams for dayssss
saltwater room an hello seattle are my jams
I thought most of the fans dug ATB&B, anyways, good review, I'm a fan of the ep as well.
Digging: Cindy Lee - Model Express
it appears that we both have reviewed owl city albums mr. robinson. i really never could get into him
Album Rating: 4.0
This EP was absolutely fantastic from start to finish.
I used to never understand the hate for this band, but after listening to much more of them I can completely see why.
Album Rating: 4.0
They are quite enjoyable though.