Adam Young lists God, optimism, and G-rated movies among his biggest influences. Such innocence will surely get beaten out of him in a back alley one day, but for now, it’s made this 23-year-old’s one-man band, Owl City, the fourth most-played act on MySpace, where teen girls eat that stuff up. For good reason: Young’s second set of lush, Postal Service-indebted electronic pop, Ocean Eyes, is so daydream-ready, you might forgive him for admitting out loud that he’d ”rather pick flowers instead of fights.” The most thrilling part? Check out the soaring chorus on ”Dental Care.” The least thrilling part? The fact that it’s about dental care.
No matter what your age you can always be sure that pop music will be sniffing around your heels like a stray dog, looking for an easy opportunity to worm its way into your affections. Easily-targeted demographics had better watch out. Whether it’s the granny-luring charm of Susan Boyle or the Top Gear soundtrack intended to get Dad winding down the soft-top once and for all, everyone’s money is equally green.
Even if his major-label debut, Ocean Eyes, is a bit simplistic and sentimental with lines like, “If the bombs go off, the sun will still be shining”, Minnesota native Adam Young, the one-man band behind Owl City, has crafted an incredibly upbeat album filled with starry-eyed lyrics and electro-pop fluff. Young’s soughing delivery seems to borrow from Ben Gibbard of airy electro-pop stalwarts the Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie, while his nasal enunciation sounds strikingly similar to that of Blink-182/Angels & Airwaves frontman Tom DeLonge. Ocean Eyes is wrought with adolescent-safe references of romantic beachside excursions, aquatic friendships, and nature walks with that special someone.
Adam Young, the Minnesotan who records as Owl City, certainly has no fear of the wretched lyric. "I've heard it said that every mushroom cloud has a silver lining," he sings on Ocean Eyes' opener, Cave In. It's one of a succession of horrific puns that litter his second album, grains of grit that strike a jarring note among the smooth synthpop. Much ire has been directed at Young for his stylistic debt to the Postal Service, one of the more beloved American alternative groups of recent years, but his modus operandi suits his apparent worldview.
Ocean Eyes is a frustrating listen, or an enchanting one, depending on your stomach. Fraser McAlpine 2010 As any busker will tell you, a one-man-band is a dangerous thing to be. Unless you’re the kind of natural genius who can play every instrument to a standard higher than your average session musician, there is always the chance the music you make will be less than the sum of your parts.