Prime Cuts: I Found Love, My Everything, This Isn't the End
You don't have to be a prophet or the son of a prophet to know that Owl City's "Mobile Orchestra" is going to be one of the most talked about album this year. It's going to cause chatter among critics who have once slammed Owl City's sound as being derivative, a watered-down Postal Service rip-off. With "Mobile Orchestra," Young finds his true sound. Instead of riding on the curtails of the fuzzy synth riffs of indielectronica, here Owl City is not afraid to mesh country music, CCM and pop-induced rock into their new career-defining sound. Further, arduous fans who have keen ears for lyrical details know Young has had never been shy to allude to his Christian faith in his previous releases ("Galaxies" being a prime example). Now, with this new record, Young doesn't just rely on allusions. Tracks such as "My Everything" and "You're Not Alone" are blatant Christian songs with God making an unmistakable presence.
Written while Young was on tour, hence the titular "Mobile Orchestra," many of the songs deal with one's life journey. "Verge," the album's sophomore single, was written with the college graduand in mind. A sound that brims with optimism of what the future holds, such a celebrative moment is shared by Aloe Blacc's smooth tenor and Young's punkish grunts. "I Found Love" returns back to the old Owl City sound with its dreamy vibe and sugary garish over a tantalizing love song. Harkening back to Owl City's earlier days of ironic rhymes and interesting turn of phrases is the electronic four-on-the-floor beats garnished "Bird with a Broken Wing."
Of the two overtly Christian songs, "My Everything" is a standout. Kudos are in order to Young for such unbashful declaration of worship with lines such as "You're my light in the dark, I sing with all of my heart. Hallelujah, my almighty God, divine." Britt Cole joins Young on "You're Not Alone," which is arguably, the album's weakest track traversing over recycled hooks and unimaginative CCM lines. Other misfires include "Back Home." Initially one is hopeful to hear Young going all out of his way to embrace country music. And despite having country crooner Jake Owen as a duet partner, as soon as the smooth electronic beats enter, disappointment sets in. What could have been a warm and rustic piece has been tragically morphed into a busy, mechanical and anonymous affair that sounds like a Little Big Town reject.
With the majority of Owl City's fans being Millenniums who grew up in the 90s, many would devour "Unbelievable," a nostalgic trip back to the "MMMBop" days of the Hansons. Yet, what makes "Unbelievable" astonishing great (other than the fact that the Hansons actually do sing on the track) is Young's attention paid to details: "When I was a kid I saved up all my dough so I could buy C-3PO/Put Mentos in my Diet Coke in the backseat of the bus/ When I was a kid I ate "Spaghetti Os", played laser tag and GI Joe's."
"Mobile Orchestra" is by no means perfect. But it demonstrates creativity, originality, forethought and it will definitely get critics and fans chatting over its lyrical contents and musical styles.
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