Owl City: a breath of fresh air

by Michelle Morgan

Ocean Eyes seems to capture the essence of electronics without overpowering the metaphorically simple lyrics of Adam Young or the
mellow style associated with this genre of music.

Adam Young’s synthpop project otherwise known as Owl City released its third album in July 2009 called Ocean Eyes. The Ocean Eyes album, produced by Universal Republic, has an electronic/indie feel to it (much like that of Postal Service) that can only be described as quirky, smoothly synthesised innocence. Following up his second album, Maybe I’m Dreaming (which received remarkable support) Young transitions into Ocean Eyes with ease, amazingly holding onto the “breath of fresh air” experience that has made him popular.

Ocean Eyes retains the uniquely metaphorical lyrics that were apparent in Maybe I’m Dreaming, giving the album the positive feel that has been lacking in much of the music produced today. The opening track Cave In seems to be the optimal lead-in track for this album, setting the scene for the digital symphony that Ocean Eyes is, with a balanced mix of electronics and lyrics Young sets the rhythm for a foot tapping, easy listen album. However, it has been the popular track Fireflies that has received the most attention on the album.

This track starts on a slow tempo but picks up into an unbelievably catchy, powerful chorus that will surely have people dancing and singing along.

The uniquely simple lyrics of the album can at times miss the mark slightly as they seem to be trying too hard to be quirky. This can be ascribed to Dental Care which talks of dentist visits and oral hygiene. Unfortunately I feel this song is the stain on the album that should have been removed before being released. His collaborated song The Bird and the Worm with Matthew Thiessen whilst not as bad as Dental Care also verges on having lyrics that seem to reach that little way too far. However, the digi-tinkles seem to capture me every time, and I end up wrapped up in the lyrics I would usually be criticising.

Young uses a blend of analog instruments, such as guitars and drums, mixed with artificial drum loops and harmoniously composed synths
that has a beautiful way of lifting a mood that would have the harshest of critics bopping along. However, for me it is the less upbeat melodies,
the melancholic, heart wrenchingly simplistic love songs that I seem to connect with in a way that is surprisingly deep. Tracks such as Meteor  Shower and Saltwater Room (which features  Breanne Duren) have this effect. However, it is Vanilla Twilight that does this best, with lyrics like:

as many times as I blink
I’ll think of you tonight

sucks me into realm of hopeless romantics, which I try so hard to avoid. 

While the album has been criticised for its simplicity and at times monotonous digital beats, I find it an easy listen that has a positivity and innocence that music has been lacking in recent years. Its unique, its good listen and I personally could listen to the album anytime, anywhere with anyone.

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