Owl City – Ocean Eyes

28 07 2009

Today, I’m gonna be covering an artist named Adam Young. Young has multiple projects, his most successful one being Owl City, but my favorite being Port Blue. Owl City’s latest album Ocean Eyes, is his first album to be released under the Universal Republic record label, which he joined in early 2009. His first two albums were self-released.

Before I really start, go download the full Port Blue album, because it’s worth it. Awesome music to do anything to. I went through the trouble of doing making it easy and free, right here. I guarantee you’ll like it. The best ambient music ever.

Owl City - Ocean Eyes 1

I first heard of Owl City around October of 2008 from a couple of friends. You can visit Owl City’s MySpace page to listen to a good number of songs from the new album and a few from prior albums. You can download five songs by Owl City for free off of SadSteve. There’s also a song there by The Owls, but disregard that. Here we go.

Track 1: Cave In
This just sounds like a watered-down version of a Postal Service song. And I’m pretty sure that can be said for this whole album. It gets a little one-dimensional, but the string bridge helps it. The strings as a whole really help it, although it’s still nothing special.

Track 2: The Bird and the Worm
The seeming presence of actual instruments immediately makes this song a step up from the last song. It’s good to see that we’re not in Discovery territory with the synth overkill. The vocals get annoying to me. Overall, while a pretty catchy tune, it’s not something I’m terribly interested in. 3

Track 3: Hello Seattle
You’ll get to a point in this album (I know I did), where every song sounds the same. That’s where this genre loses out. It’s like, if you’ve heard one thing that calls itself “synthpop,” you’ve pretty much heard it all.

Track 4: Umbrella Beach
The constant kick gives it like a techno/dance feel. I’m convinced he stole this shit from some Kylie Minogue or something because it’s just so obnoxiously clubby. It could’ve been half good if the vocals hadn’t been there. Probably my lest favorite track on the album.

Track 5: The Saltwater Room
I could see a song like this getting airtime on the radio. The guitar bridge towards the end is good, but to me it just sounds like the late 90’s all over again. I’m pretty sure if this song came out in 1998, it would’ve gotten much more attention. 2

Track 6: Dental Care
The piano is definitely catchy, as is the little synth line. The melody is generally an interesting one, and I’m gonna say this song had a lot of potential, but the whole subject is just so silly, that it’s not a very impressionable song. There was potential, especially with that synth, but it just didn’t cash in. 2

Track 7: Meteor Shower
Again, classic example of the vocals killing a song. It’s just so whiny. The instrumental is pretty sick, and the piano bridge is really good, but it’s not enough to save this song. Luckily, it’s only two minutes long. 2

Track 8: On the Wing
This is the longest song on this album at 5:01. I’m still just getting the “watered-down Postal Service” vibe from this group. Except more poppy. I guess that’s what makes it more watered-down. Towards the back third of the song, some strings come in to try to save the song, but then vocals, with Autotuned backing vocals, crush the song in a vice grip of garbage. 2

Track 9: Fireflies
“Fireflies” is the single off of this album, so I’m assuming that they saw this song as the most marketable song off the album, and I’d actually have to agree with that. Probably the best song off this album. If you listen to the line in the chorus when he says “that planet earth turns slowly” and then listen to the second line of the song “Africa” by Toto, where he says “she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation,” you’ll notice they sound the same. Or you may not. I thought they did.

Track 10: The Tip of the Iceberg
It’s a pretty predictable song, melodically. There’s nothing keeping me off balance, and that makes for a bland song, up until we’re a little over two minutes in. At that point, it takes a turn for the better, getting more up-tempo and more exciting, but sadly, that only lasts like 45 seconds. So, the bridge is good. 2

Track 11: Vanilla Twilight
It’s very fitting for this song to be the second to last song on the album. It’s generally at a slower tempo than the rest of the album, so it kind of let’s you know the album is gonna be wrapping up. I personally find it rather cheesy and melodramatic, not to mention boring.

Track 12: Tidal Wave
A good final track. It’s never bad to save the best for last. Instrumentally, I’d give this track a five, but the vocals are, once again, whack. The ending of this song sucks, though, and having a bad ending on the last track on the album is never a good call.

There are two bonus tracks on the digital release of this album. They’ll be reviewed, but they won’t be taken into consideration for the overall album rating.

Bonus Track 1: Hello Seattle (Remix)
This is much better than the actual track on the album. The compositional creativity of Young really shines on this track. I would rather listen to the remix of “Hello Seattle” than the actual song itself. This is the best song I’ve heard by Owl City thus far. 4

Bonus Track 2: If My Heart Was a House
This song isn’t even really worth it honestly. I mean, it wasn’t good enough to make it onto the actual album, and I can see why. It’s just so boring and even slightly annoying. 1

Owl City - Ocean Eyes 2

First off, let me say Adam Young really is a genius arranger and composer (see Port Blue), and if the vocals weren’t on this album, it would probably be better, honestly. This album just sounded so tacky to me, though. As I’ve said before, I find that Owl City sounds like a watered-down, overly-melodramatic version of The Postal Service. This album sounds just like everything Owl City’s ever done. Overall, a pretty disappointing effort from Young, showing us that apparently, the Owl City sound is never going to change.
Overall: 2/5

Owl City - Ocean Eyes

Listen to:
1) Hello Seattle (Remix)

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25 responses

30 08 2009
Andrew

Okay, clearly you just don’t like this kind of music. Why would you waste your time reviewing an album that you obviously think sucks?

I personally love this album because all of the music, lyrics, and vocals you think are predictable, boring, and uninspiring, i think are simplicity and genius combined and its finally some music I can listen to and not have to think about. It’s really easy to listen to and really relaxing. The album was put together perfectly for the type of music it is.

I have no problem with people having different taste in music, but you obviously don’t appreciate this brand of music so this review was absolutely pointless.

13 09 2009
erin

what a stupid review. why review music you dislike? pointless waste of time. review other music if you please.

30 08 2009
Andrew

^ and in addition to this, i’d like to add that your comment about this sounding just like everything Owl City has ever done…

are you completely unaware that this album is his first major-label release? of course it sounds like the old Owl City stuff. It’s Owl City released for the masses, the way he was signed on to sound. I thought about reading more reviews on this site but clearly theres so much lack of quality journalism radiating from this site that i’m not inclined to bother.

30 08 2009
everydaymusic

Never claimed that it was quality journalism, but thank you for commenting!

30 08 2009
Shane

Excuse me Andrew, but if you actually read the review, the author tells you that he likes Port Blue, which is very similar in genre to Owl City, so it’s obviously not that he doesn’t like the type of music, it was that he didn’t think the Owl City album was of high quality. I don’t really like the name Andrew much, so for the rest of this post I will refer to you as Bobby. Secondly, Bobby, blogs are opinions of people, if you don’t want to hear opinions, get off WordPress and go watch Fox (humor Bobby, I hope you are keeping up). Clearly Bobby, you came to this blog searching specifically for an Owl City review, considering that you posted your comment well after the review was written and yet you seem to already have a steady opinion of Owl City.
Honestly, Bobby, your first post was decent, you offered the counter opinion, even if you were a little narrow minded in the end, but your second post was just down right unnecessary, just because someone doesn’t have the same opinions as you doesn’t mean you have to attack them as a writer. If you don’t want to read anymore of the blog, then don’t, it’s as simple as that.
So Bobby, I think you would be a lot happier for a person if you try not to be so narrow minded when reading blogs and you if you don’t attack people based on the fact that they have different views and opinions. I hope you’ll find more music that doesn’t make you think, as thinking seems to be an issue to you. I wish you and your family the best.

Sincerely,
Shane

11 01 2010
Jason

Seriously that was so over the top.. and the use of the name bobby.. another un-ingenious move.. I came here to read peoples opinions on owl city, nothing more when I came across you verbal abuse about someone’s name.. I swear the internet has gone to the mental unstable.. you can comment back but I am not going to read it, so your waste of time.. :)

5 09 2009
Andrea

I think Shane is just a weird made up word, not a name.

7 09 2009
Ness

Aw, I love this album!! ^-^ I listen to it aaaaall the time, I find it so relaxing, yet still catchy enough to keep my attention. I hope he’s really successful in this business and gets recognized for his awesome talent and amazing music! ^0^

8 09 2009
Electric President « everydaymusic

[…] similar to that of The Postal Service. I’d even go as far as calling them sort of an anti-Owl City. I say that because I think both could be classified into a similar genre. The only difference is […]

4 10 2009
Jazmyn

i love fireflies <3 you are the best owl cityy
love you guys

14 10 2009
jd

I found this page just from the search

“toto africa fire flies owl city” I thought I was the only one to notice. haha

good job.

2 11 2009
Jeff

hahaha i also found this from the same exact search. lol

yeah, owl city totally ripped off toto’s africa there.

maybe they didnt think their younger audience would realize?

4 12 2009
DJEpicSoul

I did the same “Owl City Fireflies Toto Africa” google search. Good to see that other people are catching that. I think it’s a great song regardless of the “borrowing” because I love the song Africa too.

7 12 2009
Jerry

I, too, immediately thought of the Toto song when I heard the “earth turns slowly” part of Fireflies. But, I don’t think it’s enough of a rip-off to give the guy trouble about it. Even if he had been influenced in some way, it’s just a few interesting chords with the same melody over the top for about four notes. The lyrics are obviously completely different. I’m just excited that something with a touch of an 80s pop feel can make it to the top of the charts in 2009 with a “breakdown” section with a guest rapper. :)

16 02 2010
Owl City ripped off Toto's "Africa"

Owl City absolutely ripped off Toto. There is no such thing as originality these days, in any entertainment medium. The sad part is that idiots out there don’t know the difference. It’s up to us to comment on youtube to all the dummies who think Owl City is original, and tell them that he bit off of a classic 80s song.

The 80s is constantly being copied everywhere you look. Those who didn’t grow up in that golden age will just never know.

11 03 2010
olsen

+1 same search, was immidiantly hearing the similarity first time i heard fireflies

11 03 2010
Tomsoya

Yup, noticed the Toto thing on first listen and mentioned it on my facebook status… I wasn’t the only one to notice… also reminds me of that Seventy Four-Seventy Five song.

25 10 2009
ari

i love this owl city. and if you dont like him then why waste your time commenting. anyways he’s done a really goodjob. he wrote his whole album in his parents basement. i give him major props for that.

20 12 2009
Brad

A good artist welcomes criticism of his/her work. Open, valid critique is how you get better. That is, if you care about that sort of thing.

10 11 2009
Port Blue « everydaymusic

[…] 10 11 2009 You know Owl City. You love Owl City. I hate Owl City. But Adam Young is a musical genius. And Port Blue is a great example of that. It’s his other […]

23 11 2009
Maarten

Just wanted to post a digital hurrah for Shane. And for those who care to read my opinion, I love Owl City’s sound, but Ocean Eyes does seem somewhat boring to me, after hearing the album a few times.

15 01 2010
10 Songs that Annoy Matt, Part 1 « everydaymusic

[…] general population” rule of this list. (2) Songs that have come and gone do not count either. Owl City’s “Fireflies” irritated me for the week it was #1 on the Billboard Charts, and for the […]

23 01 2010
harper

he always makes me happy withthere music!!!!!!!!!

20 03 2010
Brian

I heard this song for the first time in my car the other day and picked up “Africa” instantly.

5 04 2010
Lou

My opinion is quite two sided and i am open for discussion about this…. Well not that i am a musical genius or anything, but i would just like to comment, Shane I thought your backfire to Andrew was brilliant but also thought Andrew made a good point, My opinion on Owl City is that he has the same sound yes,but that is what makes him unique:) He is OWL CITY after all and i find him somewhat refreshing with his interesting lyrics, which i find to be truly original, despite what you may think, I love his words, they are great, and not to sappy, or how did you put it ‘melodramatic’ but some songs of his just tire me from lack of trying to find meaning:) Like Fireflies i just REALLY wanted the words to mean something:) I love his sound and his Dental Care song is truly adorable it makes me laugh out loud every time i hear it!!:) I find that most of your research is true:) and i enjoyed reading your blog i found that you knew what you were talking about and that made your facts seem like the support was nonfictional, Thanks for trying to write your opinion i know what its like to totally get bashed in your blogging thanks for staying true!!!:)

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