From the basement of a house in Owatonna, Minnesota comes synthpop band Owl City.
Recently signed to Universal Republic, the one-man electronica band done by Adam Young has an impressive history in the
indie world. So far, the band's MySpace music player has had over 40 million plays to date. Not only that, but Owl City's
debut EP, Of June, peaked at #20 on the Billboard electronic albums chart, with full-length indie LP Maybe I'm Dreaming
Synthpop isn't really a genre you'd associate with this decade, but rather with the 80's. But as of late, there seems to
have been a bit of a 'synthpop revival' going on (The Postal Service, Playradioplay!, The Secret Handshake, Hellogoodbye),
so it only seems fitting that a Christian musician has jumped on the boat. Owl City is distinct from the rest due to its
dreamy lyrics and open soundscapes. According to their MySpace page, sole band member Adam Young came up with the lyrics
during some of his sleepless nights - he even mentions insomnia in "Fireflies," though whether that's regarding him or just a
lyrical invention, it's not clear. The music itself is peppy, happy, and just downright enjoyable to listen to…sort of like an
antidote to emo rock. But that doesn't quite describe it; it's almost like poetry put to music.
When it comes to singling out Ocean Eyes highlights, I'm not sure whether I could, because all of it is just
so good! One thing that possibly could be irritating to some is the way a few of the tracks' verses are quite leisurely and
continue for a while before reaching the chorus; but even then, it's a mild problem at best. Coming to the lyrics, most of the
content is comprised of such dreamy material as "You would not believe your eyes/if ten million fireflies/lit up the world as
I fell asleep." So if you're looking for a message, just don't - it's not there. However, a few tracks (such as
"Hello Seattle," "Tidal Wave," and especially "Meteor Shower") reference Young's faith, therefore any who might be unsure,
especially after hearing some of their singles on mainstream radio, can be reassured that this isn't an attempt by a secular
artist to break into Christian music.
To say Owl City have created something good would be an understatement, as Ocean Eyes is a masterpiece in electronic
pop music (can I get away with that? Masterpiece, pop… hmm). Simply put, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything better to
play in your car stereo during the summer, listening to dreamy tunes about dentists, marine life, love, and the pursuit of
happiness. Even if you've never even heard of synthpop before, check it out - you may be very pleasantly surprised.
- Review date: 8/24/09, written by Adam Dawson of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Ever since The Postal Service, there have been countless groups jumping on the electonic bandwagon.
Granted, Ronnie Martin has been doing the Joy Electric thing a lot longer, but The Postal Service helped start the
emotronic era, giving way to artists such as PlayRadioPlay! and Hellogoodbye. And the trend continues with Universal
Records' Owl City. Ocean Eyes is a fantastic collection of some beautiful synthy emo jams, all of which have
sort of a happy feel to them. Songs like "Cave In," "Hello Seattle" and "Fireflies" are almost guaranteed to brighten
you up whenever you're having a bad day. Though spiritual content is somewhat limited to some vague "You"'s in
"Meteor Shower," it's also a testimony to the joy of the Lord that Ocean Eyes is full of love, happiness and
finding joy in everything - even in a trip to the dentist, as evidenced in the extremely poppy "Dental Care" (really,
who couldn't smile at lines like "I've been to the dentist a thousand times, so I know the drill" and
"When hygenists leave on long vacations, that's when dentists scream and lose their patience [patients]"?).
With so many emo artists choosing to write sad, depressing or angry lyrics (even some Christian artists), it's nice to
have something joyful to listen to that doesn't sacrifice lyrical or musical quality to do so.
- Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com