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Empire of the Sun have emerged as one of the most exciting electronic acts of the past two years. Hailing from Australia, and formed from an amalgamation of The Sleepy Jackson and Pnau, there's much to like about this band, and much to feel positive about for it's future.
So what of they're first album, Walking on a Dream, which was one of the definitive albums of 2008, winning a host of acclaim and commercial success.
By now at least half of the tracks will be familiar to anyone who has followed their progress without buying the album. That's because Empire of the Sun have released a massive five singles from this record, which is quite something when there are only 10 tracks on it.
I'm talking of course about Standing On The Shore, Walking On A Dream, We Are The People, Half Mast and Without You - all of which are epic and fantastic in their own way. For me, personally, these five tracks have converted me from thinking all electro pop was rubbish, into becoming a massive new fan of the genre. They are wonderful pop songs - a real soundtrack to our time, and if you haven't checked out their equally interesting videos on youtube yet, I suggest you do so.
But what about the rest of the album? Well since there are only five songs left to pick over, it's won't take long to do just that.
The conclusion, sadly, isn't great. 'Country' is a brilliant instrumental track which is every bit as good as any of the singles, even despite it's lack of vocals.
Beyond this however, there isn't a lot.
Delta Boy, Tiger By My Side and The World are all irritating at best, and downright awful at worst. Swordfish Hotkiss Night is a little better, though well below the standard of the singles.
So there you have the answer. The singles were chosen for a reason. Each is excellent, but look to the album itself and there isn't a lot else to get excited about.
The sound of Empire of the Sun might make some people wish to check it out, and so will the desire to have all the singles in one place, but just bear in mind that all of the singles have since been re-mixed, so like a previous review I wrote, it may be better to listen to them individually on itunes a purchase your personal favourites.
As far as music goes, I love it all, I always find my taste varying as I discover new artists, I love rock, pop, hip hop, old and new, everything.
Empire of the Sun is something really different. I discovered them about three or four months ago when one of the songs was played on the radio and I was desperate to hear more.
I could not find out who they were and eventually the tune faded from my head, when I then stumbled across the song again I remembered as many words a possible and Googled the lyrics, found out who they were and bought their album from Amazon.
Who are they?
Empire of the Sun are an Australian duo who formed in 2007 but have only recently started coming out of the woodwork in Britain with some of their songs being played on the radio waves, and also more and more regularly their songs are being used in TV programmes for sound tracks. Now that I recognise their sound I pick them up quite frequently showing that their popularity is growing among new audiences.
The band consists of Luke and Nick who were friends before the official band formation but were musically signed individually before they became friends which is how they met and connected with each other through their similar sounds.
The pair came up with and produced their album 'Walking on a dream' in October of 2008 and their initial success was popularised by fans downloading some off their tracks on MySpace.
The best way to describe Empire of the Sun's music is Fantasy electro pop, it is not everyone's taste but if you are a fan of bands like MGMT then you will have no problem appreciating the kooky sounds that this duo produce.
They have been compared to kings like David Bowie and Prince, and their music really does carry the essence of slight 80's rock, however their songs are extremely visual and to many listeners they are a step too far over the wierdness line.
Empire of the Sun have been in the charts in Australia but have never reached the top spot of number one, they are not so successful over here either never reaching the top ten in our charts. This is mainly due to them having a really limited fan base as their music targets a small group of people who are willing to listen and actually visualise their music so that it can be appreciated. Their music isn't easy to listen or relate to. But it is growing, and Empire of the Sun already have a string of festivals, mainly in Australia, to perform in showing that their voice is starting to be heard.
This album is not a gigantic hit but it does feature on the BBC's list of sounds of 2009 which mainly lists the music to watch out for which I think really shows that they are affecting people in high places.
I think that after I saw a few of the videos for this album I now visualise them every time I hear their music, think star wars on happy pills and it will bring you close to the right image.
The duo really believe they are on a spiritual journey and they try to show this in their videos so I would recommend that you avoid them visually as it is slightly to much to handle and doesn't ruin the music but it does come close.
The album cost me £2.60 which I suppose was so cheap because it is still a band that few people have heard of over here, so I was lucky in a way.
1. Standing on the shore - This is a great track to start the album with the song isn't about love or drugs or money, Empire of the Sun mainly just sing about their minds which is different and the song has a really addictive back beat.
2. Walking on a dream - Walking on a dream is one of my favourites, it's a really strange and trippy tune which you could raise your arms up to and just dance. When I listen to this song I feel like I am stuck in a slow motion night club and it's a really strange feeling but it is very addictive. The song is also very sexy and I love it every time I listen to it.
3. Half Mast - This song was not originally one of my favourites, it takes a minute or two to get completely into it but the chorus is cool and again it is a really sexy and definitely needs a high volume.
4. We are the people - another brilliant song, I like this one because you can sing along to it where as the others are slightly too hard to. It is not a dance song though and is slightly down beat, I have heard it used in TV shows like Hollyoaks as a backing to a pretty depressing scene, but the chorus again is amazing.
5. Delta Bay - Delta Bay is the marking point for where the album goes down hill for me. The song sounds like white noise with a psychopath sing over it.
6. Country - This is a purely music track and is a great song to have on in the background if you are relaxing.
7. The World - This song is horrible I find it scary and pointless. This is one of the tracks on the album which I am unable to enjoy or connect with at all.
8. Swordfish HotKiss Night - This is another song which I cannot relate with as well, although it is not entirely terrible I do not listen to this song when playing the album. The tune is slightly more upbeat than the other songs on the album however and is very similar to light 80's electro rap.
9. Tiger by my side - Another slow motion song, however this one I am unable to enjoy in the slightest. The music overpowers the words which obviously indicates it's a sound that the band wanted to speak for itself, unfortunately it just does not speak to me.
10. Without you - Although I shouldn't really like this song because it is over weird, I actually really do and am happy to flick through the album to it. It is a very slow electro love song and I find it a lot more gentle than the other tracks.
My Guilty Pleasure
I love this duo's unpredictability their music seems to really represent the colours and feelings they both personally experience whilst creating music. However, this is most likely why they are not such a big hit, their music is almost like listening to a heroin addicts thought processes and sometimes the sound is slightly too deep to connect with.
I only like just over half of the album, which is a shame because I do own albums in which I genuinely love every track, but It is not unusual for bands to fill out their albums with personal projects to make the tracks up and it is quite obvious from some of the songs that this is what Empire of the Sun done to make up ten tracks in their album.
I think there is a time and a place for Empire of the Sun and sometimes I get more from their music than usual, sometimes I listen to a track too far and end up feeling like I just need to switch it off. It is strange because I think if you are in a certain mood you will be able to really listen and visualise their tracks but other moods can make you just hear drone.
I definitely recommend the album even though it is not all completely enjoyable, especially if you are a fan of bands like MGMT. Empire of the Sun have a very similar sound but do not sing about drugs and suicide like MGMT, their music is cleaner and you get a slight sense of euphoria listening to it.
If you think that it is worth a listen then please you tube one or two of their songs and let me know your opinions.
Same under same name at Ciao
I was tempted to buy this album after hearing the singles "We Are The People" and the title track "Walking On A Dream" along with a recommendation from one of my best mates who said that it was one of the best albums he has bought this year.
I have to say after purchasing it, I am impressed. The majority of tracks are of a high quality, there are a couple which could be better but there are none which are terrible.
The first half of the album is probably stronger and I can see why comparisons have been made with MGMT.
The CD booklet is good. It contains the lyrics and has some decent photos.
Running time is just over 43 minutes, there are 10 tracks. Seven are uptempo, a couple are slow ballad style songs and there is something of a rarity these days in an instrumental track.
The opener "Standing On The Shore" is a taster of much of what is to come. It is a lively enough affair and is probably good enough to be released as a single. It leads us on to the title track which is a very good song and is currently receiving a fair amount of airplay in the UK. I believe this may actually have been their first single and bearing in mind their more recent chart success I would suggest a re-release may be on the cards as it will do very well in my opinion.
"Half Mast" fills the gap nicely between the title track and the big hit "We Are The People". If you have not heard the latter track you must have been hiding somewhere as it has been used as background music on tv as well as being popular on jukeboxes in bars and obviously on the radio.
"Delta Bay" has some repetitive lyrics but is still worth a listen. It is followed by "Country" which is an instrumental track. I often find myself bored by instrumentals but this one is quite good.
Next up we have "The World", the first of two slower tracks and in my opinion the weakest track here. I still think it might grow on me though.
"Swordfish Hotkiss Night" is a rather bizarre title and the song is a little bizarre too, although likable I think.
"Tiger By My Side" has a heavier and stronger bassline and is already one of my favourites.
We finish with the second of the slower tracks "Without You". This is a better effort at a ballad and again I can see this being a single.
Overall a good debut album. If you like MGMT and you like electronic music in general I would recommend you get this album. The lyrics are interesting if not always coherent, however this is common to many bands these days, Kings of Leon being a case in point, but this does not detract from the entertainment on offer.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
I must admit that drawn in by a particularly cheap offer on a leading website, this album is the first I have ever downloaded rather than bought in CD format. My reasoning was that I quite liked the two singles, and even if the rest was dross, it would have almost been worth paying a few pounds for them. With hindsight it was not one of my wisest decisions - I should have just paid to download the two singles! For this really is one of the worst albums I have listened to in recent times.
It starts inauspiciously with 'Standing on the Shore', but then 'Walking on a Dream' arrives and all is forgiven for three minutes and eighteen seconds of brilliant pop music. 'Half Mast' evokes early 80s synth pop and is pleasant enough, and then we have 'We are the People', another excellent track during which to close your eyes and drift away to a sun kissed beach or some such utopia.
And then it all goes horribly wrong. Try as I might (and I have tried!), I can see absolutely nothing of merit in the grotesquely awful 'Delta Bay', the insufferably dull instrumental 'Country; and the nightmarish 'The World'. 'Swordfish Hotkiss Night' takes an entirely new musical direction heading for traditional early Prince country again but fares little better, before we plumb the depths again with 'Tiger by My Side'.
By this point I am usually begging for mercy, but happy in the knowledge that it is at least only a ten track album, meaning that I am just five minutes away from escape. And yes, unsurprisingly 'Without You' is dull dull dull.
Please do not buy this album, unless you really enjoy mindblowing mediocrity masquerading as.....I really do not know. Words fail me. The record company did a great but not difficult job in identifying the only two tracks that were good enough to release to the world at large. I would have a hefty wager that there will be no third single from this album. Enjoy their selections and steer very well clear of the rest.
Empire of the Sun are an alternative indie band with blends of 80's electronica. They hail from Perth, Australia and comprise of Luke Steele, formerly of cult indie band Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore, of the less known PNAU. Together they use guitars, synths, keyboards, thought provoking lyrics and amazing vocals to make perfect pop music. Thy dress up in bizarre outfits and look quite weird and look almost to not be taken seriously. Their music suggest otherwise. This is my track by track guide to their debut album.
STANDING ON THE SHORE; Album opener has two electric guitars; one playing a simple chord rhythm, the other a finger picked simple solo. This is the third single taken from the album with a chorus line of "_Don't want to talk, all I hear is noise_". The song is a strong opener that represents a unique sound that is present throughout. 9/10
WALKING ON A DREAM; Pure 80's sounding synth pop and lead single from the album. "is it real now, two people become one, I can feel it, when two people become one" is the chorus line which illustrates the song as being one about love. Although a real 80's sound with the electronic influences, the song still sounds modern and unique. '10/10
HALF MAST; More drums-led, with vocals going along to the beat until the chorus where a subtle acoustic guitar is added. Steele's vocals are awesome, hitting a wide range of notes with ease. The song fades out at the end and into the next track, showing the album's intention of being listened to as an entity rather than individual tracks. 9/10
WE ARE THE PEOPLE; A basic chord sequence on the acoustic guitar starts off the song with a gradual build up of instruments; first the pedal drum, followed by full drum and keyboards. "_I can't do well when I think your gonna leave but I know I try, are you gonna leave me now?_" is the chorus sung by both band members. The track flows superbly and is one the albums standouts. 10/10
DELTA BAY; After the strong opening four songs, it was inevitable that the album would hit a slight lull. Weird sounding vocals on a sort of rap verse is initially difficult to digest after what has been a stunning opening few tracks. The song is a grower but still, for me, not on par with what was before it. 7/10
COUNTRY; The albums only instrumental was written soley by Nick and is a sweet sounding song with finger picked guitars building up, with the addition of a funky, subtle bassline and usual keyboard sounds. 9/10
THE WORLD; Builds on from the slowed down vibe of "Country" and becomes the first ballad-like track on the album. "_asked the world a question, where did you begin? I asked him of his problems, when did you go wrong_" shows the more darker lyrics on the album. The song is complimented by acoustic guitars once more. 8/10
SWORDFISH HOTKISS NIGHT; Another weirder sounding track, not too dissimilar in style to Delta Bay with a rap-like verse and chorus, which again doesn't work for me as much as the pop song styles of earlier in the album. 6/10
TIGER BY MY SIDE; A quick, but welcome return to the style I was talking about. Very 80's in sound; both musically and vocally. Luke Steele proves he can lend his vocals to the varying styles on the album. Clocking in well over 5 minutes, its probably too long to be a single but catchy enough to be edited down for that. 8/10
WITHOUT YOU; Sounds even more 80's than anything on the album, even spandeu ballet. A total love song, which if Tony Hadley and co had written and performed you would class it as cheesy but not in this case, it just sounds like a great end to a great debut album. 9/10
Walking on a dream is a stunning debut album. The band really have a knack for creating perfect pop melodies and they really should be much bigger than they already are. I hope that they continue to make albums as good, as strong and as diverse as this. When the pop charts are loaded with people who don't write their own songs, and churn out records without any attention to detail or quality, it is refreshing when a band comes along like this. Although their sound is not totally unique; people have used synths, keyboards and guitars before, what is unique is the way they blend them all together and in this current culture of lab-generated pop.
***INDIVIDUAL TRACKS TO CHECK OUT FIRST IF NOT SURE
Any of the first four songs are a must to check out. The album has a similar feel all the way through but these four are probably the strongest representation as to the sounds of empire of the sun. All tracks are on youtube.
The album has been out for a while now and most places online and offline stock the album around £6.99 which I feel is a bargain. I wouldn't pay anymore than £8 when most online retailers will do much cheaper. Anything below £6.99 is on par with a steal.
this is an updated review from my own published on ciao as dtait07
I must say,apart from "we are the people" , the other songs are not so good. Having heard the lead song on a music channel was expecting to find some other brilliant tracks to go with it. Unfortunatly i was sadly disappointed.
The few songs that are worth listening to, i always find myself skipping forward to the main song- we are the people. The music vidoe of we are the people is exceptional also.
The problems with this album is that the songs don't seem to flow from one to another, which is a great shame as it does have huge potential. Maybe their next album would be better ? The genre it has been classified as (Dance & Electronic) is a very accurate reading of the album.
It is a bargain priced album, but for it you get bargain priced music. I would reccomend this artist to people. But maybe not this album. Only song worth actually buying is "we are the people".
So, im sat here listening to this album. Its not mind blowingly spectacular, i will have to tell you. Straight away, nothing is wanting me to give it a great review, apart from its lead single; 'we are the people', which reached number 14 in the UK charts in 2008.
I must say though, i continue to listen to this album and it just grows.
It has something 'cool' about it. Like what MGMT had. Yes, many people will compare MGMT and EOTS (Empire of the Sun), but is this just due to their imaginative variation on modern music? I think so.
What the austrailian electronic music duo comprimising of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore lack in quality of songs, they certainly make up for in directness.
Its direct, it doesnt flimsy about the edges of genres, it has a very distinct and melodramatic sound.
One warning: It takes a few listens to get used to his voice- he has one of those perculiar yet awesome voices. You know what i mean ;) This is yet another reason why they stand out and will stand out in the future.
Some official stats for the album:
The album, Walking on a Dream, was released on October 4, 2008 and reached 19 in the UK and 6 in australia.
SINGLES RELEASED SO FAR:
WALKING ON A DREAM.
WHY? Because it just sums the summer and journeys to me. I can imagine playing this when in the car or on the beach. Its well worth checking out.
WE ARE THE PEOPLE
Has a great acoustic strumming pattern in the background, it just sounds so good i cant describe it well enough to portray how good it actually is! This is the song which made me buy this album straight off, it has that 'exiting' feeling about it. Sometimes i want to listen to this. One word of warning though;
ITS INCREDIBLY CATCHY!!!
If you want a song stuck in your head all day, i recommend this.
STANDING ON THE SHORE:
Opening song on the album. With alot to prove. Delivers expectation fully with its eerie build up and progressive melody. This song reminds me of the sea, travelling and the way people move around. This is my opinion on it anyway.
'Dont want to talk- All i hear is noise' is echoed throughout the chorus to great effect.
Overall its a very enjoyable album, definately one to buy for the summer to chill out to. I would recommend it to anyone who 'digs' MGMT or anyone who wants something a bit different to your usual.
Empire of the Sun, the latest project from antipodeans Luke Steele, formerly of synth-pop outfit The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore of dance combo Pnau comes to these shores riding a wave of hype sufficient to see the duo regarded by many as the The Next Big Thing of 2009. The lustre of "Walking on a Dream' wears remarkably thin all too quickly however, as the duo's debut suffers from a crippling superiority complex.
--- Standing on the Shore ---
A beguiling synthesized beat overlaid by nasal vocals which ape early eighties Prince. It would be a great start until the chorus kicks in, hamstrung by some cheesy female lah lah lah. A rippling guitar hook almost redeems the song until the chorus wrestles defeat from the jaws of victory.
--- Walking on a Dream ---
Truly majestic with a twinkling piano, serenaded by deliciously languid vocals, 'Walking on a Dream' is an unbelievably uplifting and life-affirming track and could rightly be considered a stand out track for 2009: 'We are always running for the thrill of it / Always pushing up the hill searching for the thrill of it'. Listening to 'Walking on a Dream', expectation grows as this is a truly outstanding piece of music.
--- Half Mast ---
Evokes memories of David Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes' until the burping vocal does its best to alienate the listener. A prissy 80's synth beat chirps its way through the track, leading to an unexpectedly abrupt but nonetheless well-received end.
--- We are the People ---
After the disappointment of the previous track, 'We are the People' is a song that desperately tries to rekindle interest. Opening with a strumming acoustic guitar supported by a dreamy synthesized beat this uplifting track finds some redemption, particularly with the chorus containing a dreamy wail.
--- Delta Bay ---
Screeching guitar met by a strange voice which has been overly tampered with electronically to such an extent that Steele's vocals are almost unrecognisable. Hmm... A strangely irritating track that makes you wish these guys would take themselves a bit more seriously...
--- Country ---
A good start, with twinkling acoustic guitars, flanked by an oscillating synthesizer. As we venture further in to the track it unfortunately sounds like hurried days spent at the local shopping centre hijacked by myriad South American pan pipe bands.
--- The World ---
Blighted by ridiculous high-pitched wailing vocals, with an indulgent string sound which quickly gets drowned out by the vocals taking a turn for the worst. This is an expansive, ambitious foray into some sort of camp variety performance which conjours up an image of feather boa-clad Elton John wannabes playing to a non-existent nightclub audience.
--- Swordfish Hotkiss Night ---
More burping vocals. They really are trying too hard, with Steele attempting a dreadful rap drawl in spite of a tense, jerky hip-hop track that almost saves this disappointing mid-album filler track.
--- Tiger by my Side ---
Woah. I can barely force myself to write anything about this track. It is as dire as it is outlandish. We have hit a low point here.
--- Without You ---
'Walking on a Dream' closes with the cheesy 80s school disco slow-dance that is 'Without You'. A sprawling almost never-ending exercise in mediocrity.
I tried to like this album. I really did. But in the end I had to admit defeat. This record flatters to deceive and fails to deliver given the hype that has followed Empire of the Sun lately. In my music collection I have many great albums which I had to persevere with before I realised that I was listening to something special. 'Walking on a Dream' does not fall in to this category; it is no 'listener'.
If you distilled the most banal essential oils from a mashed up Prince, David Bowie and Elton John you would come some way to describing this first offering from this supposed 'super-duo'. This record came to us dripping with promise and expectation, but ultimately falls way too short, leaving the inescapable feeling that this freak-fest is a one trick pony surrounded by so many asses.
Where to start with this album?...Before I go into greater detail, I want to make one thing clear at £6.98 on Amazon this album is worth every penny, BUY IT NOW!!! (Its also worth noting that I am writing this review as a newly converted and completely obsessed Empire fan!)
I personally found out about the Empire of the Sun when checking the BBC radio 1 play list on its website and then by seeing what their song 'We are the people' sounded like on you tube. As soon as the song started playing I was hooked, worth checking out for the video alone! Amazing!
Empire of the Sun could be compared to the recently successful and popular MGMT but they are different and not to taken as a carbon copy.
The main difference in my opinion is the origins and location of the band, MGMT are based and from New York in the States whereas Empire are from Australia and mostly based in Perth, giving them a slightly different edge and sound. The laid back quality of Australian life is very evident in the relaxing feel to the songs. But what is truly special about Empire is how they combine this chilled out edge with catchy upbeat music that has the feel of David Bowie, 80's dance, and a strong hippy vibe to it. The music will have you feeling youthful and instantly happy, transporting you back to a time where life was simple.
The band is formed of Luke Steele, formerly 'Sleepy Jackson' and Nick Littlemore of 'Pnau' and Luke Steele's video outfits are simply amazing and almost make you want to have an 'Empire of the Sun' themed party! The videos are filmed in stunning locations such as rural Mexico and create a fantasy feel about the music. Songs to check out are 'We are the people' 'Walking on a dream' and 'Without you' ...Complete tunes! They are planning on doing live shows, but want the shows to include an 'army of colour' with 'audience participation' which I think will be high budget and sound like great fun.
This Electro Pop highly addictive album is newly released in the UK, fast becoming an album to watch out for. Empire are a hidden gem, waiting to be found! If your not in the Empire revolution, get involved!
Find yourselves caught up in the Empire NOW !!! (and you can be one of the fans that say 'I was there at the beginning!')
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Standing On The Shore
2 Walking On A Dream
3 Half Mast
4 We Are The People
5 Delta Bay
7 World, The
8 Swordfish Hotkiss Night
9 Tiger By My Side
10 Without You