Owl City “Vanilla Twilight”

Adam Young is a one man band who has a knack for making heavily poppy music, drenched with optimistic gobbledygook.  As cliche as it sounds, at first listen I thought this was Postal Service. I had heard a lot about this band and the curiosity was killing me. Listening to this album is kind of like eating a diet consisting of only cake frosting. Really good, and sweet for the first couple bites, but then you start to feel kind of sick from all the rich sweetness. By the end of the album you have a headache and  your teeth are falling out. I had this album in my car for like two days straight, (not from obsession, just forgetfulness) and ended up chucking the thing in the back seat out of sheer insanity. I couldn’t take it anymore, and my wife was going to kill me. Lets just say this album is only healthy in doses. Yet the thing finds its way back in my CD player. The album is essentially a G-rated fluffy bunny material.

The album opens up with a song called “Cave In” which is a perfect introduction to this rainbow -licious gem. Adam Young starts right out of the gate with catchy synth keys that seem to swirl back and forth through the speakers. I found that the most interesting thing about this is how Young simulates all instruments with just a key board. The lyrics seem very whimsical and dreamy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Young had ADD.  But I think it fits the music well. Most of the lyrics have junior high tendencies, which is a common theme throughout the rest of the album. Although its first single “Fireflies” is a deeply textured, atmospheric, and wanderlust anthem, the album is not without its missteps, as “Dental Care” feels quite ham-fisted in its attempt to integrate dreamy soundscapes with an altogether mundane topic of oral hygiene. Musically speaking, such stargazing naïveté seems a welcome change given the times we live in—but very rarely does it ever have a long shelf life.

Some of the lyrics seem sort of.. well..  – ahem- .. Girly.

A great example of this is lyrics like; “I would rather pick flowers instead of fight.” Sounds like Young should probably stay clear of any dark alleys.

Seems like Adam really auto tuned the hell out of this thing, a great example is the song “Hello Seattle.” Yet another dreamy sort of hallucination song encompassing a flying theme with visual descriptions of beautiful geological landscapes. If there was one theme to this album it would be Adams obsession with escape and fantasy.

I was very glad the discover some actual real acoustic guitars in “The Bird And The Worm.” This one  definitely sounds like  juvenile love story, wrought with adolescent-safe references of romantic beachside excursions, aquatic friendships, and nature walks with that special someone. The wooziness is reflected in Adam’s voice, which is whisper-soft, quiet and nasal, like a man whose parents sleep lightly and have to get up early for work.

So although this review is has a mostly negative vibe to it I must say I like the album. It has some sort of emotional relevance for me that I cant explain. Also I got engaged around the time I got it, so theres some nostalgic significance mixed in there.

On a more somber note some things to keep in mind while listening to the album, specifically the song “Vanilla Twilight.”

First,  Adam Young’s girlfriend had unfortunately passed away.

Also, it is said that Young suffers from insomnia, that is to say not being able to fall asleep properly. Which explains the song “Firefly’s”

This definitely puts the album in perspective and kind of kills any sarcastic jabs directed at the album, kind of like telling a fat mom joke, but then finding out said mom is in fact dead.

JL

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