Owl City’s Mobile Orchestra: Promises much, but falls horribly flat

Posted on 20 July 2015
By James Burcher
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Owl City, the rather strangely named pseudonym of singer Adam Young could be described as a strange beast. On the face of it, his music is rather bland and about as generic as it can get, while on the other hand, irredeemably upbeat and at times, so eccentric that you can’t help but get his jaunty tunes stuck in your head. This was true of arguably his two biggest hits; Fireflies and Good Time featuring human breadstick; Carly Rae Jepsen.

Could it be said for his new album; Mobile Orchestra though? I have to say, after listening to the first song, Verge; I was blown away by how ridiculously happy, up-tempo and summery this song was, and I was very much ready for an album full of of jolly if not repetitive electro-pop.

Unfortunately, this was as good as it got, with Verge being the best song on the album by far, as the rest of it, is full of needlessly sentimental dross.

Adam Young is at his best when he’s making cheery, feel-good electro/synth-pop and is very much capable of doing it right on his day. As bland as it may be at times, I’d rather much have an album full of cheerful mood music over sickeningly sentimental ballads with religious overtones, which is what the majority of this album unfortunately is.

It is why songs like Thunderstruck and Verge prop the album up, taking the strain against songs like Back Home, Can’t Live Without You and My Everything, which just lurch from mawkish nonsense to boring reflection pieces.

Other songs such as Bird With A Broken Wing and Unbelievable are more valiant attempts at being genuine but they still fall flat to me. The latter is an homage to being a 90s kid and is filled with more references than an episode of Family Guy, even down to the presence of Hanson as featuring artists- who you will no doubt remember from the horrifyingly 90s song, MmmBop, seriously, there is nothing more painfully 90s than MmmBop.

This could have been a real attempt at a genuine summer pop album- I was quietly looking forward to it, after being someone who genuinely liked the song Fireflies, I thought I’d be able to withstand one or two attempts at Young trying to be a real singer-songwriter here. However, it gets unbearably dull at the halfway point and you really do just switch off as it becomes less and less interesting.

Young should take some advice from one of his own songs – stop trying and just have a good time.