To start off, let’s go down memory lane: Owl City, the electro-pop experience that is curated by Adam Young, released the big and still recognizable hit single “Fireflies” off of 2009’s Ocean Eyes, which reached the top of the US and Canada’s charts and the album reached Platinum in 2010. Young’s synthpop sound and fantasy-like lyrics really stood out from a lot of the top singles at the time and was very successful.
Now, let’s fast-forward to present day, where, after two more albums, Young releases Mobile Orchestra, and it also stands out, but not like “Fireflies”/Ocean Eyes did. This album, as sad as it is to say, is something that was not expected from the creative, child-like mind that Young has. I did try to like the album and, as usual, I try to have an open mind when it comes to reviews, but the majority of this album had too-familiar lyrics, contrived beats and rhythms that sound like too much like other dance and pop songs, and just doesn’t flow as an album should. Yes, it’s harsh, but let me lay this out…
There’s so much more that can be expected from Adam Young, especially with this being his first album in years. The album has the taint of a too-earnest “I want to be a part of the Dance/EDM craze, too!” and that is really disappointing. There are songs such as “Bird With A Broken Wing” and “This Isn’t The End” that are reminiscent of Young’s early, more unique sound, (which would have been awesome to have more of in this album!). but many of the other songs, such as “Verge,” featuring Aloe Blacc, with contrived lyrics like “Top of the world and we’re dressed to the nines tonight/Edge of the earth and we’re touching the sky tonight/Out on the verge of the rest of our lives” that aren’t too appealing and not that original.
This album would definitely appeal to preteens specifically, especially songs like “Unbelievable” which features 90’s teenage dream pop band Hanson. One would think that a song featuring Hanson would be nostalgia heaven, but it ends up being Young and the band singing down a list of notable 90’s memories. Being a proud 90’s baby, I really did hope this one would work out…sadly, it did nothing for me.
Young also attempts to reach out to other genres with “Back Home” featuring Jake Owen by dabbling in country, and in Christian pop on “My Everything” and “You’re Not Alone.” These tracks interrupted the synthpop flow that the album had in the first half and threw me off a bit. Young is known to be subtle about religion in some of his songs, but the two previously mentioned were very vocal about his Christianity, which is not at all a bad thing, but was still a jarring shift in tone, nonetheless.
Mobile Orchestra, as much as I wanted it to be another Ocean Eyes or something remotely closer to it, was mostly disappointing. I only wish he’ll be able to make up for in the near future, but I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
What did you think of Mobile Orchestra? Let us know in the comments after the jump!