Review: Owl City – All Things Bright And Beautiful | Christian Music Zine
June 13, 2011Posted by on
Released June 14 2011
Reviewed By Matt Shervheim
It’s been two years since Owl City’s major label debut Ocean Eyes was released and Minnesota’s native son Adam Young is back with another dose of surreal electro-pop in the form of All Things Bright and Beautiful.
Kicking the album off is The Real World, a song that could have easily come from either Maybe I’m Dreaming or Ocean Eyes. It’s a solid, dreamy song, but it’s a bit subdued, so I’m a little curious as to why it was chosen for the opening track. Next up is the instantly catchy The Deer in the Headlights, a quick-witted song about love at first sight. Musically, the song was inspired by 80’s pop, which leads to a rather cheesy feel, but it’s likeable, and irresistibly fun.
Adam has never been shy about his faith and it’s well represented on All Things Bright and Beautiful, with songs like Angels, Hospital Flowers, and the first single released to Christian radio, Galaxies. Regular Owl City collaborator Breanne Düren makes an appearance on The Honey and the Bee, a sticky-sweet love song builds slowly to a big climatic, while former tourmate and Canadian electronic-wizardress Lights makes an appearance on the danceable Yacht Club.
The only real “uh, what?” moment on the album comes in the form of January 28, 1986, a 38 second-long track of the voice of Ronald Reagan reading a tribute to the astronauts of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. In an interview with AOL Music, Young said that it was intended to lead into Galaxies, which was written to put Young in the astronauts’ shoes, facing the leap from disaster to eternity in light of his hope in Christ. From an artistic perspective, I can understand where Young is coming from, and I think it’s a great idea, but among the upbeat and optimistic songs on the rest album, the interlude feels out of place.
Closing the album nicely is Plant Life, an upbeat song with more of Young’s trademark lyricism. If you happened to purchase the album through iTunes, you’ll also have two bonus songs to look forward to, How I Became the Sea and an alternate version of Alligator Sky with new verses, sung solely by Young.
Musically, All Things Bright and Beautiful is far more diverse than Ocean Eyes, with hip-hop beats and techno (and even a guest spot by rapper Shawn Chrystopher) being incorporated with Owl City’s trademark dream pop. Young’s voice sounds considerably strong and more confident as well, and in fact, there’s several instances when he sounds quite a bit like Tom Delonge on an Angels & Airwaves song, and on Kamikaze, he comes close to shouting at times.
All Things Bright and Beautiful is a solid follow-up to Ocean Eyes without a weak song in the bunch, plus new diversity and stronger vocals and lyrics. All around, a strong follow-up that current fans will love and just might win over some new listeners as well.
- The Real World
- Deer In The Headlights
- Dreams Don’t Turn To Dust
- Honey And The Bee
- January 28, 1986
- Hospital Flowers
- Alligator Sky
- The Yacht Club
- Plant Life