Review of Owl City's album Ocean Eyes released through Universal Republic
With the popularity of single 'Fireflies' and a host of sold out gigs awaiting him, Owl City, better known as Adam Young, brings us his second album 'Ocean Eyes'.
It's always interesting to hear the PR chosen to describe an album; in this case, "retro-nouveau electro pop and sweetly melancholic lyrics." Now, this isn't too far off the mark. There's certainly an electro pop sound running throughout this twelve track album. It also has a sweet element to it. But it resides on the side of the syrupy sweetness that you will eventually tire of.
Without knowing too much about Young, he seems a nice enough lad. Probably more innocent than the average 23 year old too, although that's purely speculation. For the most part, he can also hold a tune. Tracks such as 'The Bird and The Worm' and 'Dental Care' would be passable enough if it wasn't for the infuriatingly twee lyrics. In the latter for instance, Young announces "I'd rather pick flowers instead of fights." nothing wrong with this; he's setting a good example for the kids. But for those above the age of fourteen, this is unlikely to win him any fans. Luckily, the teenage audience is probably one of Young's main target markets and as such, 'Ocean Eyes' is bound to be used as perfect background music in the plethora of US teen shows that continue to be commissioned.
Track 'Meteor Shower' is packed full of synthpop arrangements; perhaps too many throughout the chorus when Young's vocals get overshadowed by more twinkles than you'd care to hear. Young's vocals, mostly quiet and nasal in nature, are an acquired taste too.
If you listen to the first couple of tracks on the album, there is actually little need to continue with the rest; the remainder, such as 'On The Wing', 'The Tip Of The Iceberg' and 'Vanilla Twilight' all have the same sound and similarly static vocals. The whole thing just feels a little sappy and lacking in personality. In saying this though, for some reason, you feel guilty. Almost like you're kicking a very cute domestic animal. That guilt is not strong enough, however, that you will take the criticism back any time soon.
The solution to improving Owl City's output could be as simple as getting Young some friends; a one man band needs to cover all bases and be at the top of their game; he isn't quite there. Instead, he needs someone to tell him that the lyrics he wrote at 4am one Tuesday aren't quite up to scratch, or maybe that he should change the arrangements of just one of his songs.
It's safe to say this album will have fans, but whether you are one of them fiercely depends how strong your constitution is. The naivety of the tracks could speak to those with soft, vulnerable hearts; for those with a taste for good music though, 'Ocean Eyes' should be given a wide berth.