Since the success of the ‘love it or hate it’ Fireflies in 2009, Owl City aka Adam Young hasn’t crossed my radar. Mobile Orchestra, the fifth album from multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Young, cements the reasons why.
Lead single and opener, Verge, featuring the incredible vocal talents of Aloe Blacc, is the main event. While bubblegum-EDM and over the top auto-tune are present, there’s feeling and hope in the lyrics ‘out on the verge of the rest of our lives tonight’ which hit Young’s critics right between the eyes.
However, the album continues quite clumsily, touching on a multitude of themes aross a variety of musical genres. Young enlists Christian pop vocalist Britt Nicole for one of the two nods to the almighty God on the album (Young’s faith is well documented). You’re Not There is a little country, toe-tapping ditty about being rescued ‘God is love/your grace is beyond compare’.
Can’t Live Without You takes the album into relationship territory, overloaded with saccharin sweet lyrics like ‘you’re my only wish for a dream come true’, complete with a fairly bizarre acapella auto-tune ending. On a subtler moment, Young’s Bird With A Broken Wing provides some uplifting soft-rock, which takes the listener on a journey of their destiny. Then we receive a lesson in 90’s pop-culture from the ‘Mmm Boppers’ Hanson on Unbelievable – an electro-pop wedge covering everything from G.I. Joe and spaghetti-o to the Lion King and C3PO.
I can’t help but think that maybe the title was a giveaway. Like an orchestra this album has a little bit of everything but rather than coming together to create something sincere and beautiful, it’s all just a bit confusing and lacks any longevity.
‘Mobile Orchestra’ is out now on Republic Records. The full track-listing for the album is…
‘I Found Love’
‘Bird With a Broken Wing’
‘Can’t Live Without You’
‘You’re Not Alone’
‘This Isn’t the End’