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.
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. 2½
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. 2½
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. 1½
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. 3½
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. 1½
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. 2½
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
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.
1) Hello Seattle (Remix)