Empire Of The Sun, ‘Walking on a Dream’ – Review

7 Jun
I found Empire of The Sun’s album whilst browsing the shelves of HMV, a few minutes before a three hour bus journey to the most remote town in the UK. I was going there to write an article for my Creative writing class and wanted an album to listen to on the way; in the end I chose Empire of The Sun’s album ‘Walking on a Dream’. There were a couple of silly reasons I decided to buy this CD In particular – firstly because I loved the artwork (a brilliant nod to the star wars style poster art) and secondly because I had heard favourable comparisons to one of last years best bands MGMT.

The similarities to MGMT are at once obvious and at once irrelevant. ‘Walking on a dream’ is nowhere near the classic album ‘Oracular spectacular’ is; it lacks the scope, the ambition and the imagination. The cynical part of me can’t help thinking that the album is a quickly executed attempt by the band to get in on some of the love thrown MGMT’s way, and it isn’t only me being cynical – anyone who has heard ‘We are the people’ must surely come away thinking the same thing – It’s ‘The Youth’ by MGMT, right?
So you know what to expect – a watered down spectacular. Lots of synths, drum machines, airy vocals, 80’s references, dressing up and crazy lyrics about space and bugs. At first I thought these Australians were on some crazy acid, but to be honest I’ve changed my mind. It doesn’t sound naturally high, a lot of the lyrics sound forced and the psychedelic music sounds pretend and put on – like the masks the band wear in their cinematic videos.

Get past the cynicism though and you will probably find something to enjoy, but be warned it’s a bumpy ride. The album is top heavy in an attempt to lure the listener in, it’s as if the band KNOW they only have 5 good songs, and 4 of them are the first 4 tracks. The two singles, We are the People and the title track are the most impressive, great pop songs with a solid dance beat. The albums’ most outstanding moment may well be the final song though, the unashamedly cheesy 80’s tribute ballad ‘Without you’. It’s a brilliant track that like ‘Two doors down’ by Mystery Jets manages to get the cheesiness just right. In between ‘We are the people’ and ‘Without you’, the listener will have to put up with 5 completely forgettable songs that are barely worth mentioning. They vary from the boring (‘The World’) to the Cringe worthy (‘Delta bay’).

I’m still skeptical about Empire of The Sun’s motives (they aren’t new to the game, coincidentally Luke Steele’s last band The Sleepy Jackson also came along at precisely the right time to cash in on the garage rock revival of the early 00’s), They have their critics and I can see why. Nonetheless there are a few great songs on here and you would be foolish not too give the band your attention.

7/10

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One Response to “Empire Of The Sun, ‘Walking on a Dream’ – Review”

  1. benno June 8, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    “… the album is a quickly executed attempt by the band to get in on some of the love thrown MGMT’s way, and it isn’t only me being cynical – anyone who has heard ‘We are the people’ must surely come away thinking the same thing – It’s ‘The Youth’ by MGMT, right?”

    nah people liked mgmt and empire has some similarities and also some (as you acknowledge) great tracks. hence why empire are becoming popular. mgmt broke in 08. empire album was released in 0ct 08 in oz. empire prob more similar to oz electro, euro pop and phoenix than anything else.

    its pretty funny that luke steele has a similar voice (in some tracks) to the dude from mgmt tho.

    another thing. empire released their album in oz with very little fanfare and no advertising (read: record label help). its has taken nearly a year (and coming 4th in BBC sound of 2009) to get them where they are today. i say well done.

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