Album Reviews

Owl City – All Things Bright and Beautiful

on May 31, 2011, 7:57am
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Owl City’s new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, is somewhat mistitled. The tracks are bright, to be sure, but more so in emo-pop, acid-bright tone than in any sense of actual joy. And the beauty here is (arguably) in the repetition of that tone; if you’re a diehard Owl City fan, then you’re going to love this disc, but for everyone else, there’s not much here.

The 12 tracks here are mostly three to four minutes long, a pretty standard setup on a pretty standard pop album. The one exception is “January 12, 1986”, a 38-second clip of Reagan’s speech after the Challenger disaster, played rather inexplicably in the middle of the album over a quiet track of synth and open-vowel vocals. This probably has some significance for Owl City’s Adam Young (and appears to lead into next track “Galaxies”), but some insight might be helpful. As is, the interlude feels like a distraction (albeit a welcome one).

Everything else plays out as expected, which is to say that there isn’t much innovation here. First single “Alligator Sky” sounds exactly like the other tracks except that it features rapper Shawn Chrystopher, which livens things up considerably. This sonic variety is just a tease, though, and the songs quickly go to back to their ersatz Death Cab, twee-pop sensibilities. There are some cute lyrics (“Reality is a lovely place/but I wouldn’t want to live there,” on “The Real World”), but nothing enduring here. “The Yacht Club” breaks form a bit with a danceable tempo and gorgeous guest vocals by Lights, but waters things down with the lyrics (“She would rather fall in chocolate than fall in love”).

Overall, All Things Bright and Beautiful isn’t a bad album; it’s just not very interesting. There’s no compelling tone, no driving rhythm, no earworm single to draw the listener back, rendering the album a decent listen but of little long term consequence.

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3 comments

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Goo
June 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

No.

Steve
April 3, 2012 at 5:46 am

Completely disagree with this review. It’s unfair to compare this album to the typical ‘pop’ music nowadays. That isn’t what Adam Young is trying to achieve – he’s trying to achieve much better sounding music with use of extremely delicate rhythms and mixing – and he has succeeded immensely! This album has a lot to offer the music industry, but unfortunately the music industry is more interested in overly ‘bassed’ tracks with lyrics about sex that you can dance to in a club. Adam Young’s music is a completely unique sound – that what music should be about. This album is extremely interesting, with a compelling tone, and a driving tone! A fantastic album in itself.

J?rdie
June 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm

It’s not about stand-out singles, it’s just that the CD as a whole is less ‘potent’ than Ocean Eyes.

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