The new album is a mixed blessing for Owl City, the name of the musical project created by Adam Young. The Midsummer Station is a distinct turn for the project after he maintained the same synth pop style for the previous three albums. It was conceived in part out of the ashes of its predecessor, All Things Bright and Beautiful, in my opinion the best album by Owl City. That was such a poor commercial failure, selling just 143,000 in the US. Therefore, Adam decided to branch out, bring in other producers such as Stargate and John Crosby and adopt a more commercial sound. Overall, it is a different album, much more polished than any previous one, which has all of the vocal effects, pounding bass and repetition of this decade's music. However, it still brings to the table a considerable amount of the Owl City charm and character, which redeems it and makes it a generally excellent album. It is a mixed blessing though as many who have grown up listening to the chirpy home produced pop of Young are now subjected to a more mainstream and chart friendly ensemble of songs. The debate has often been venomous but it is a new musical direction which keeps Owl City relevant, current and a sustainable project. This is still an amazing album, perhaps now with an even wider appeal.
1) Dreams and Disasters - an instant hook, this is a great introduction to the album with a driving bassline and soaring vocals. It is not too unexpected yet.
2) Shooting Star - the second single from the album has attracted comparisons to Katy Perry's Firework and I can see the similarity. It is not particularly inventive and is by far not my favourite on the album but it is nonetheless. It has a pop charm and is optimistic, both reflectors of the whole album.
3) Gold - this is one of my favourite songs of Owl City and the best on the album. It is life-affirming with a dash of inspiration. Sure, the chorus of G-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ll-l-l-l-ll-d-d-d-d-dd-d is not too creative but it works really well, is a well-woven song and has a magical air about it.
4) Dementia - a great song, a real highlight, about Adam's own life trying to reconcile fame with an ordinary existence. It has great sequences of lyrics and a more subtle chorus than the other songs on the album. The occasional vocals from featured guest Mark Hoppus adds to the layering effect on this excellent song.
5) Im Coming After You - This is perhaps a weaker song on the album but with an intoxicating woo-woo-woo chorus. It is a little similar to Deer In the Headlights, but with a great backing beat.
6) Speed of Love - a great dance number with really addictive twists of beat but lacking lyrically
7) Good Time - the most well known song, this was the first single and a summer hit mainly due to his collaboration with Carly Rae Jepson. It is actually a decent song when given a few listens, but is mostly just a mainstream pop factory song with a catchy hook and a memorable chorus 'its always a good time'
8) Embers - This is an outstanding song and I adore the first few lines of lyrics. Listen to them and they show a songcraft which is rarely seen in the mainstream. The chorus is also good, reminding me of Shooting Stars even more, which knits the album together nicely.
9) Silhouette - A rare ballad from Owl City, this is hauntingly beautiful. It builds up with plinking piano keys, a soothing drum beat and a gorgeous string section. One of the most artistic and evocative song on the album.
10) Metropolis - An average song on the album, perhaps better than some earlier, showing that this is a record that gets better as you go. The hook is the line 'I left my heart in Metropolis' which is delivered nicely. It has quite an atmospheric feel with the soaring violin backdrop. In retrospect, this album grows on you such that I am changing my opinion whilst re-listening to each of the songs and finding new dimensions.
11) Take It All Away - a bold, thumping and triumphant conclusion, this is anthemic in its quality. Its drumbeats are exquisite and though it is not especially innovative in its lyrics and construction, it is like Gold in that it has just a special spark about it.
I FINALLY RECIEVED MY SIGNED COPY OF OWL CITY'S NEW ALBUM, 'THE MIDSUMMER STATION'!!! SOOO HAPPY! :D
1. Dreams and Disasters 4.5/5
2. Shooting Star 4.5/5
3. Gold 4/5
4. Dementia ft. Mark Hoppus 5/5
5. I'm Coming After You 3.5/5
6. Speed of Love 3.5/5
7. Good Time ft. Carly Rae Jepsen 4/5
8. Embers 5/5
9. Silhouette 5/5
10. Metropolis 4/5
11. Take It All Away 4/5
12. Bombshell Blonde 4/5
The album begins with 'Dreams and Disasters', a beautifully named track which will hook you from the start and reflects the developed sound which is consistent throughout the album. This is followed by tracks released from EP 'Shooting Star' out earlier this year, a teaser to the album. 'Shooting Star' and 'Gold' are both very upbeat and radio-friendly tracks which timelessly makes you feel good and you can listen to again and again.
On this album, Young specifically wanted to collaborate with different people having worked a lot on his own on prior albums. Dementia ft Mark Hoppus is an addictively catchy track (one of my favourites) with a developed sound; whilst some argue has commercialised, I feel it is not a bad thing if more tracks like this were to be made! 'Good Time' on the other hand featuring Carly Rae Jepsen (singer of smash hit 'Call Me Maybe') is again catchy and commercial but lacks the deeper, poetic lyrics I so loved from previous records.
Sandwiched between these two collabs are two rather fun songs about love: 'I'm Coming After You' is quirky whilst 'Speed of Love' makes you want to jump around and dance to, with just the right amount of cheese.
The next few songs are clearly the climax of the album and it is sheer perfection. 'Embers' has some beautifully poetic lyrics (And when it's all said and done we'll shine like the sun so don't let the fire die/ And we'll watch the sky as it fills with light/ And though the embers are new, whatever you do just don't let the fire die), yet powerful and dramatic with such an overwhelming chorus, I can't stop listening to it.
'Silhouette' is the only soft song on the album which draws a lot of attention to it musically and lyrically. Sounding like it could be from 'All Things Bright and Beautiful', the song reminds us all why we love Owl City and lyrically it is genuine and heartfelt: "I'm a silhouette, chasing rainbows on my own/ But the more I try to move on, the more I feel alone/ So I watch the summer stars to lead me home".
As the album comes to an end, 'Metropolis' brings the fun back in this upbeat song that has a great pop feel but doesn't stand out and may take a few more listens to really fall in love with. 'Take It All Away' bookends the album nicely with a coherent sound similar to tracks earlier in the album.
Bonus track 'Bombshell Blonde' closes the album with an edgy and darker sound which is surprising in a good way. With lyrics like 'She's a bomshell blonde, light her up to detonate/ I'm Flames Pond, live to die another day /Bombshell blonde, high explosive dynamite /She's all I want, so I am on a mission tonight", it's hard not to get addicted to it! I have no words- this definitely doesn't sound like anything we've heard from Owl City before but is an exploration and interesting development... maybe stick to the likes of 'Embers' and 'Silhouette' but interesting nonetheless.
SONGS TO LOVE: Dreams and Disasters, Dementia, Embers, Silhouette
SONGS TO SKIP: NONE!
Many people claim that this is a departure from his previous records and this is not 'Owl City' anymore... Of course the sound will change- it is called development- and I am so happy that Adam has decided to explore other areas of music that interests and inspires him in order to create better music. You won't learn unless you try. On this album, there are some truly brilliant songs which would not have come about had he not ventured into this new area. As an artist, he is showing that he is growing, changing and not just staying the same creating the same record again and again and I applaud him for that.
Overall, 'The Midsummer Station' is a solid fourth album from Owl City showing diversity and a developed sound which is upbeat and catchy, super fun yet honest and genuine. Time to listen to it on repeat.
Adam Young has been putting a few demos onto his tumblr as I just want to say that 'Beautiful Mystery' sounds amazing and compliments this album really well.