Owl City’s Adam Young took a bold step forward on the new album by choosing to work with co-writers and outside producers for the first time. For example when it came to working on the first single released to Christian radio, “Shooting Star,” he enlisted his friend Matt Thiessen (Relient K), Stargate (Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa) and Robopop (Maroon 5), and on “Gold” – another focus track on the album – he enlisted the team of Josh Crosby, Nate Campany, and Emily Wright (Dr. Luke’s engineer).
In addition to working with other writers and producers, Young is joined by two very exciting guests on the new album. On “Dementia,” Young is joined by one of his heroes, blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. The song documents some of the more psychotic thoughts and feelings Young dealt with in the wake of his platinum debut album, Ocean Eyes, and is one of the more rock-inspired cuts on the new album. And on the album’s first single at mainstream radio, the incredibly infectious pop gem “Good Time” (written and produced by Adam Young, with Matthew Thiessen and Brian Lee as co-writers), Young is joined in a duet by “Call Me Maybe” star Carly Rae Jepsen.
By embracing the idea of working with others, Young was able to grow as an artist and producer and really explore new aspects of song writing and production. This openness was born out of several positive experiences collaborating with other artists including Paul van Dyk (“Eternity”) and Armin van Buuren (“Youtopia”). The eleven songs on the new album reflect this growth while still retaining Young’s synth-driven melodic pop sensibility.
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Owl City's New Direction...| Posted September 05, 2012
Owl City seems to be one of the most popular acts in all of music – period. Ever since “Fireflies” hit radio stations, Adam Young’s dreamy pop rock has been featured on both Christian and mainstream radio. Last year, he brought his sophomore Universal Records’ project All Things Bright and Beautiful, which had more of a Christian hint to it than his debut, Ocean Eyes. The sophomore project featured several chart-topping singles including “Alligator Sky” and “Galaxies,” not to mention the many fan favorites (which would be the whole album). Then, back in June, Adam released the four-song Shooting Star EP, a sneak-peek into his third Universal Records’ album, The Midsummer Station, which is finally here!
Many Owl City fans will immediately notice that the album takes on more of a definitive pop sound. Also, instead of his dreamy lyrics, it is fairly easy to follow the meaning of the songs off The Midsummer Station. Personally, I find this aspect to make Owl City’s music on this new album even more of a hit for me. And, though his new sound did take a little getting used to, I think Adam Young is headed in the right direction. The Midsummer Station has the ability to make the listener instantly happy with his upbeat and contagious music.
The Midsummer Station kicks off with “Dreams and Disasters.” It’s a bit weak at first, but has cool electronic effects to it and finally blends into the booming drums, as heard in “Fireflies” and Owl City’s other recognizable hits. The lyrics themselves speak of enjoying our life, no matter what comes our way: “Follow the light through the dreams and disasters/ follow the light to the edge and the after/ we won’t turn around/ we will not slow down/ follow the light through the dreams and disasters.” I also love the choppy effects placed on Adam’s fun vocals in this song, and many of the others on the album.
Next comes, “Shooting Star,” “Gold,” and “Dementia” (which features Mark Hoppus), all from the Shooting Star EP. Personally, these three tracks are my favorite on the album, so I am a bit surprised that all these songs were featured on the preview EP. “Shooting Star” actually seems to be based on Matthew 5, encouraging the listener to shine no matter where they are, but especially in the dark places. “Gold,” my favorite of this set of songs because of its noticeable booming drums, speaks directly to someone, telling them that they are pure gold. The choppy vocal effects in this song make it a GREAT sing-along! “Dementia” sounds the most of any song on this album like the All Things Bright and Beautiful CD, simply stating, “Dementia, you’re driving me crazy!” Not surprisingly, it’s a really fun song.
With deep guitars and a swingy-pop feel, “I’m Coming After You” is a relationship track, and one of the lesser tracks on the album, in my opinion. It does, however, have cool lyrics that compare love to “a high speed chase racing down the street.” In addition, Adam’s higher vocal background effects are an awesome backup. Stealing what should have been the title of the previous track, “Speed of Love” has the same type of message, only this time, Adam’s vocals are deeper, as he sings: “Don’t you go, no don’t you go…” and later in the chorus, “Rev your engine up, everyone’s racing at the speed of love.” I love the galaxy feel of these two tracks, which is unique to Adam’s music. He just has the ability to make the listener feel instantly happy!
The album’s lead single, “Good Time” features Carly Rae Jepsen, and fits in perfectly with Adam’s message of enjoying life and relationships. I did think the children’s choir at the end was a little annoying and I wasn’t too fond of Carly’s supportive vocals; I think the track would have been much better without her. Next, with “Embers,” which is at first mellow, but builds nicely by the chorus, Owl City again shares the message of burning your light in a dark world: “’Cause we’re burning bright as we all unite/ and when it’s all said and done/ we’ll shine like the sun, so don’t let the fire die.” I love this message, and I also love how Adam Young puts messages like this in his albums that reach both Christian and mainstream audiences.
“Silhouettes” is an album standout in that it is piano-based and mellow. Adam’s vocals are very soft, and the melody is haunting (fitting the downbeat lyrics), making it a stunning track, one I immediately repeated after my first listen. I hope Adam makes more tracks like this!
Adam Young “left his heart in Metropolis,” he states through “Metropolis,” a moderately upbeat track. It transitions the album nicely to the album’s closer, “Take It All Away,” another track previewed on the Shooting Star EP. Adam’s vocals are overlapped in this track with both high and lower vocals, making it great to sing along to! And, oddly, even though the track speaks of a terrible break up, (“You gotta know that you tear me up when you say you wanna take it all away”) the track has a happy feel to it, even though it does have a dark tone as well. It makes for a wonderful closing to The Midsummer Station album.
In summary, I can see why certain Owl City fans are disappointed with the new sound of the Shooting Star EP and this album. It isn’t quite as dreamy as much as it is inspirational and upbeat, and it has more of a definitive pop feel to it. However, that being said, I, as a big fan of Owl City’s All Things Bright and Beautiful CD, think that this is a step in the right direction. Granted, the ATBAB CD may be more dreamy and futuristic, but Owl City has a powerful message of shining your light in a dark world, which is scattered throughout his relationship tracks presented on this album. The Midsummer Station, in my opinion, is a fantastic album. I do say that ATBAB is probably his best project to date, but this album is a wonderful project as well.
Owl City "The Midsummer Station" Review| Posted September 07, 2012
Owl City, in my opinion, is one of the greatest acts in Pop music right now. In 2009 he became greatly successful with his #1 hit "Fireflies." The album that it was one, Ocean Eyes, went on to become platnum. in 2011, when he returned with All Things Bright and Beautiful, he didn't get the platnum success he got with his debut. Therefore, Adam Young (a.k.a Owl City), decided to branch out and work with other people in the Pop music industry to try and get his music more into Pop culture. People like Emily Wright (engineer for Dr. Luke, who has produced many a Pop hit), Matt Thiesen (Relient K frontman), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182 singer/bassist), and Carly Rae Jepesen ("Call Me Maybe") are just a few of the people that are involved in the writing/recording of the new album, The Midsummer Station.
One thing that was immediatly noticeable to me, was how much more meaningful the lyrics to the new album are. Instead of Owl City very imaginative scenarios (which were very neat), Owl City connected with me better on this album just because of the more meaningful songs on the album .Two great examples are, first of all, "Dementia," which features Mark Hoppus of Blink-182. The song has the best lyrics on the whole entire album, as the song describes how reflecting on what's in the past can drive us crazy, according to Adam Young. "I'm Coming After You" is the best example of the most fun lyrics on the album. The song is about a man going after a woman who's stolen his heart, but the song is written like a cop chasing a robber. It has some very clever lines about police and law that are used to describe the man chasing the woman such as "You've the right to remain right here with me/ I'm on your tail in a hot pursuit/ Love is a high-speed chase racing down the street/ I'm coming after you."
One big reason for Owl City branching out was, because All Things Bright and Beautiful didn't sell well, the record company wanted him to make an album that would sell, therefore the album has a sound that is more mainstream than electronic. One very good example of this is the first (and may I add hit) single "Good Time." This song features Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame, and her vocal performance is much better here than in "Call Me Maybe." These two really work great together, and it's a very catchy sing-along anthem about having a good time. One of the most interesting points musically on the album is "Silhouette." This is the only break in the stream of upbeat, poppy, songs. It starts out with Adam Young and a very nice piano track, nothing more than drums are added into the song, but Adam delievers great vocals, and although this song is a breakup song, the music is very pretty.
Overall, I am very impressed with The Midsummer Station. I think Owl City has benefitted greatly from working with others, and hopefully this will affect his future efforts, because it really works. This is Owl City's best effort to date and although this one contains little to none spiritual content (he is a Christian), the song have very good lyrics that stay away from being inapropriate. This is a refresher to those looking for clean pop music.
Favorite Songs: Dementia, Good Time, Silhoutte, Embers, I'm Coming After You
What Happened to Owl City| Posted August 30, 2012
I think we all saw this coming after the Shooting Stars EP was released and the Good Times single came out. All Things Bright and Beautiful was such a great album. It was an example of what Owl City was so great at; combining fun electro beats with randomish yet poetic lyrics. I have to say that this album was very disappointing for me personally. The music is just so related to the mainstream pop, and people have said that he was "exploring and expanding" his music. I disagree COMPLETELY! I believed he was pioneering something, something where you didn't have shallow lyrics and beats that sound exactly the same over and over and over.... I hope Adam realizes his mistakes and comes out with a record similar to Ocean Eyes and All Things Bright and Beautiful. In the end, not bad record, but it's NOT Owl City.
I Fought the Record Label and the Record Label Won| Posted August 22, 2012
It only felt like yesterday that Adam Young of Owl City put out his sophomore album All Things Bright and Beautiful. That's probably because it was yeasterday, proverbially speaking. ATBAB was released just over about 400 days or so ago and now we get to look forward to his third outing The Midsummer Station. Does this album continue the trend of fun electro dance pop music that Owl City is known for? Does Young craft more lyrical poeticism that makes these songs have more depth and meaning? Yes... kind of for the first question and not really for the second question. Yes there are some fun sounding songs on here but the beats don't sound up to the level and quality that Owl City provides. See, All Things Bright and Beautiful didn't sell all that well and the label, Universal Republic, basically made Adam to make an Owl City album that would sell. That's why this is coming out so soon after the last album and that's why you hear Carly Rae Jepsen, of all people, being a guest vocalist on one of the songs. Lyrically, Adam tries to write more of that excellent poetry that was apparent on the previous albums but the label influence appears here as well and what he ends up with is just your average pop song lyrics minus the sex references.
The Midsummer Station is an album that screams label influence. The electro sounds Adam Young is known for end up sounding like any other mainstream pop album and the lyrics aren't as deep as they were in previous albums. Songs like "Embers," "Silhouette," and perhaps the best track of the album "Take It All Away" show us the Owl City of old and are the highlights of the album. As it stands, The Midsummer Station is probably my least favorite Owl City album to date.