Adam Young (Owl City) went from rags to riches seemingly overnight. After the independent release of his self-produced full-length Maybe, I’m Dreaming in 2008, along with the exposure gained thanks to Sir Tom and Myspace, Young was quickly grabbed by major label Universal Republic, and he subsequently released the tongue-and-cheek Ocean Eyes. Young’s popularity exponentially took off with the Top 40 regular single “Fireflies”; with its catchy-as-hell chorus, a formula for success that’s taken OC to new heights. Regardless of Young’s particularly mainstream popularity, the underground community seems to drench OC in ridicule and disgust of its incessantly poppy nature. Many online zines (this one may be included in this) have subscribed to this immature derision of this young man’s synth-friendly tunes, but that may soon change. With the release of All Things Bright and Beautiful, which is by far Owl City’s best work to date, the tide is bound to change.
This is summer-pop at its absolute finest. Quite possibly the most endearing quality of All Things is its effortless ease and beauty. Steering clear of the forced awkward sentiments apparent in Ocean Eyes, Young instead adopted the practice of allowing the atmosphere of his trademark synthetic sounds to envelope the listener to new heights, even “Such Great Heights” (pun was surely intended). When it seemed that Young was forcing his electronically-molded poppy sensibilities in his previous work, he substitutes the aforementioned formula for a fresh and even more accessible charm. Young brings us into his life in “Real World” with a breezy and optimistic attitude, which will surely captivate even the most pessimistic of beings. Among the trenches of his normally electronic-savvy, Young is also a talented multi-instrumentalist. To quench his thirst for an organic supplement, he crafted “Honey and the Bee”, which is one of two tracks (see also “Hospital Flowers”) that are almost completely analog; it’s eerily similar to the beloved Ocean Eyes track “Saltwater Room”, and features the same lovely, high-pitched vocals of Breanne Duren.
The boldness in lyricism has massively increased this time around, as Young’s lyrics exude a new depth, and invoke his spiritual convictions, particularly noticed in both the interlude “January 28th, 1986”, and the following track “Galaxies”, as Young exuberantly sings “Dear God, I was terribly lost when the galaxies crossed, and the Sun went dark. But dear God, You’re the only North Star I would follow this far,” making this a wonderfully inspiration listen, and figuratively bringing us into an entirely new dimension. Owl City teams up with the stylish MC Shawn Chrystopher in “Alligator Sky”, as Young tries his hand as a rap-producer, and pulls it off quite well. Finishing off Young’s soon-to-be-realized opus is “Plant Life”, which was co-written by Relient K’s Matt Thiessen, and is a solid way to end a solid album. Trust me, the chorus will be in your head for days, but fortunately, you won’t be disappointed.
If there’s one thing we realized with the release of All Things, it’s that life can surprise you sometimes. An artist such as Owl City seemed to be portrayed as a one-hit wonder by the underground altruistic know-it-alls in the cyber-world, can shove this wonderful release in their faces and laugh. I know I am.
2. Deer In The Headlights
4. Dreams Don't Turn To Dust
5. Honey and the Bee (feat. Breanne Duren)
7. January 28th, 1986
9. Hospital Flowers
10. Alligator Sky (feat. Shawn Chrystopher)
11. The Yacht Club (feat. LIGHTS)
12. Plant Life
Owl City is an American electropop musical project by Adam Young. Young started out making music in 2007 in his basement in his hometown of Owatonna, Minnesota, United States, later developing a following through his MySpace profile before being signed to Universal Republic. Owl City released Ocean Eyes on iTunes July 14, 2009, with the physical release following on July 28, 2009. His best known track is 2009's "Fireflies", which in October 2009 hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in the UK Top 40 on January 24th 2010. ... read more