Monday, February 09, 2009

You Should Give A Hoot About Owl City

Music Monday! It's Music Monday! Rejoice!

If you like The Postal Service, you already like Owl City--you may just not know it yet. Owl City is the same brand of "synthpop with a an earnest tenor voice and slightly odd lyrics." In fact, if I had heard any of the Owl City songs without attribution, I would have assumed it was new Postal Service material.

Does this mean that Owl City is derivative? Well, yeah, somewhat; however, there are some subtle distinctions. Owl City is a bit more upbeat than Postal Service. Also, there is just something a little "sparklier" about Owl City's sound. And the lyrics are a bit more surreal at times. But even if Owl City were a complete Postal Service clone, it wouldn't matter--the songs are just too good to worry about it.

I've been listening to the "Of June" EP (available at iTunes, luckily) for several days now almost nonstop, ever since Oz heard the song "Hello Seattle" on internet radio at work and knew I would love it. And it's pretty easy to love. As the review at CDBaby notes:

If your electronic household appliances wrote love songs while you were away on vacation, their happy pops and clicks would sweep through the neighborhood and you would return home to find chipper crowds of people singing along to fluffy pop melodies drifting from the windows.
If only...

Adam Young is the musical force behind Owl City and he writes some gorgeously strange lyrics. On "Of June," he's clearly fascinated by distance and geography; he sings about skylines, mountains, and transportation. He loves city names. And his rhymes are charming in their simplicity. Here's a stanza from "Fuzzy Blue Lights":
If I was flying on a plane above your town
And you were gazing at the sky
Somehow I'd feel intact and reassured
If you began to wave goodbye
There is just something so sweet and comforting about those lines.

Wait until you hear this evocative verse from "Hello Seattle":
Hello Seattle, I am a manta ray,
Deep beneath the blue waves.
I'll crawl the sandy bottom of Puget Sound,
And construct a summer home.
And how can you resist this vision of the American geographical expanse?:
If I could open up my window
And see from Tampa Bay to Juneau
Then I would survey all those open miles
And line them up in single file
Everywhere I look I see green scenic sublime
And all those oceanic vistas are so divine
I just wish he had rhymed "Wasilla" instead of "Juneau."

Although he came to it a few days later, Fosco is also happy to recommend Owl City's full-length Maybe I'm Dreaming. It's a little less chirpy than "Of June" and the lyrics are more narrative. Some of the electronics are toned down a little as well. However, it's still great. Oz prefers it to "Of June." Fosco prefers "Of June." They're both right.

Here's a great line from "The Technicolor Phase":
If you cut me I suppose I would bleed
the colors of the evening stars.
And don't miss the California love song "West Coast Friendship."

Honestly, I could quote Owl City lyrics for the rest of the day--I'm just so infatuated with these songs right now. But instead, I'll give you an assignment: now that you've read this post, you have ten minutes to get a hold of an Owl City recording. Go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oz actually does not have a preference for one or the other; they are both very good.

However, for those that like more meaning to the lyrics, Oz proposes the latter title 'Maybe I'm Dreaming' as it seems it has more purpose.

If you are looking for better melody and obscure lyrics, please peruse the prior 'Of June' title...

"Hello Seattle, I am an albatross..."