Release Date: Jun 14, 2011
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Emo-Pop
Listening to an Owl City song is like speed-eating a box of Girl Scout cookies: You go from tasty to pukey in minutes. Like his 2009 hit, Ocean Eyes, Minnesota native Adam Young's third disc is all syrupy Ben Folds-meets-Ben Gibbard vocal moves, gushy poesy and synth melodies like pink fireworks. "My rock-candy passion is bittersweet and armed to the teeth/'Cause she would rather fall in chocolate than fall in love," he sings.
Two years ago, Owl City (a.k.a. Adam Young) topped the Hot 100 with his emo-electro ditty ”Fireflies,” perhaps the wimpiest tune to pull off that feat since James Blunt’s ”You’re Beautiful.” So has success boosted Young’s swagger? Hardly. ”It’s suffocating to say,” he coos, ”but the female mystique takes my breath away.” Awww.
There’s a reason Owl City has sold more albums than the Postal Service, the short-lived band that more or less wrote the template for Owl City’s bubbly electro-pop. Give Up, the Postal Service’s 2003 debut, sounded like the soundtrack to an indie film, with subtle samples and knotty, literate lyrics to match. Owl City’s music is a big-budget reboot of that record -- the indie flick remade into a summer blockbuster -- and it caters to a far more marketable audience, bypassing the college kids who purchased Give Up and focusing on teenagers whose imaginations have yet to be sullied by adulthood.
Like its predecessor, Ocean Eyes – an unexpectedly big US hit thanks to its flyweight lead single, Fireflies – this album suffers from a lack of substance. Owl City's sole member, Adam Young, is still putting all his eggs in one genial synthpop basket, and even the addition of rapper Shawn Chrystopher on Alligator Eyes and a female vocalist on The Yacht Club don't add much heft to his slight compositons. One of those people who makes lemonade when life gives him a lemon, Young eternally sees the best in people – even the woman who inspired the song Deer in the Headlights: "Met a girl in the parking lot and all I did was say was say hello/ Her pepper spray made it rather hot for me to walk her home.
Owl City’s new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, is somewhat mistitled. The tracks are bright, to be sure, but more so in emo-pop, acid-bright tone than in any sense of actual joy. And the beauty here is (arguably) in the repetition of that tone; if you’re a diehard Owl City fan, then you’re going to love this disc, but for everyone else, there’s not much here.
It’s been eight years since the release of [a]The Postal Service[/a]’s ‘Give Up’, and we’ve still got wannabes channeling their inner Gibbard while vying for the title of most emotionally over the top. [a]Owl City[/a]’s no different with his gooey, nostalgic third offering that once again drips with saccharine-sweet sentimentality, the musical equivalent of overhearing tweens wax poetic at the mall.Attempts at “stirring” imagery ([b]‘Angels’[/b], [b]‘Honey And The Bee’[/b]) to articulate the thoughts of a man in love find you wondering if throwing grenadine on the record player might get the point across more quickly.Anne T DonahueOrder a copy of Owl City’s ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ from Amazon .
Adam Young really wants a rocket ship. The man behind Owl City wants one like some rappers want a Maybach, like some indie singers want heartbreak and a secluded cabin in the woods to write about it in. His new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, talks about what this rocket ship would be like all the time: space travel this, space travel that. And it’s endearing in a way, something about this childlike fascination in the simple lyrics.