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First of it must be said, I don't really consider myself a fan of Owl City. Anyone who knows the guy is well aware that his fan base consists mostly of pre teen girls who think his lyrics are deep and dreamy, when in reality, they're not. The lyrics are mostly random rhymes, nonsensical stories, bible versus and rainbow dazed delirium. The vocals aren't really up to scratch either, reeking of autotune, making the whole thing seem an unnatural and processed jumble. However, some of the synth pop madness manages to hit a few decent notes. The most popular song by Owl City is without a doubt 'Fireflies' from 2009's 'Ocean Eyes' A rhythmic, magical one hit wonder. I was intrigued to hear the mans background songs that led up to such a song and 2007's 25 minute EP, 'Of June' provides some interesting selections and insight..
The first song 'Swimming In Miami' is strangely a mix of upbeat vocals and synth loops, but saddening bass and solo melodies. The lyrics are really out there, with several metaphors "I am the captain of an oil tanker that travels through your veins". There's also some manufactured falsetto going on as the best of the lyrics are "When you are lying half asleep in your room, unaware if it is midnight or afternoon". Not really much to go by but this songs hopping background synth effects and outro riff are memorable and make the song breeze by with an unassured feeling of what is to come. Still a decent track though. "Captains and Cruise Ships" is just too childlike in its rhyming and beat that you feel silly just listening to it. Its super smily and full of more 'head in the clouds' writing. The keyboards are a bit out of control as well and its not really what you want after the first song builds up your expectations. 'Designer Skyline' however is a masterpiece compared to everything else on the record. Completely surprising and technically wonderful, It begins in a ringtone like melody with artificial string sections, funky drum beats, numerous synth effects and trudging bass. Lyric wise, it is again, not fantastic but far greater than the previous track, largely discussing the beauty of the world. The second verse features some fancy finger-work on piano and the intro riff to get it built up for the big climactic ending. It's a strange song layout with no chorus, though the ending gets backed up with some surging, chords of both piano and bass that show glimpses of what made 'Fireflies' such a big hit. It closes with the intro becoming almost poetic and is hands down the best track on the album. At this stage 'Of June' is a mixed bag of treats and annoyances. 'Panda Bear' is snappy in its approach with a digital xylophone intro and slowly accompanied by the standard synth effects that seem customary for Owl City. Again though, lyrics are dodgey, talking about "Moving to Tokyo" and "Plastic Access Cards". Its positive but a quiet track amongst a lot of bleeps and bloops from other songs.
Next up is 'The Airway' which starts straight away with the unimpressive singing from Adam Young. It seems like he's ran out of ideas and the initial stages are a mix up of the last songs melodies. The only memorable hook is the song title which is shamefully sped up and auto-tuned beyond human ability. Once again, a little riff tries to save the song but it just goes back to the repetition of "The Airway". Track 6 is a welcome dumbed down song. 'Fuzzy Blue Lights' consists of mostly piano, drum loops and distant effects. It feels fresh despite being depressing in lyrics and melodies. "All those oceanic vistas are so devine" is yet another weird line. Sticking to the themes of other songs, another synth solo rears its 50-50 head.. it works this time. Some nice percussion work here and there too. 'Hello Seattle' closes the mixed bag of an album with consistant upbeat attitude, banging on about sea creatures and the sky. Its a trippy riff and full of hand clicks. Some of the effects wouldn't be out of place at a disco/rave club, especially the phaser style bridges. It ends rather abruptly though with a strange breakdown and darker lyric "Hold me secure in flight, sing me to sleep tonight". Its difficult to judge such an album/e.p full of special effects and masks. The vocals never show any humanity and just aren't memorable. The melodies however are incredibly uplifting at times and the feel from some songs can really stay with you. Worth a listen if you need cheering up - whether to laugh at the cloud-pooped-out-a-rainbow-turd lyrics or dance about to the funky sounds.