Quick Spin

August 20, 2012

When Owl City landed its first big hit, 2009’s wistful, unavoidable “Fireflies,” no one knew for sure: Was the band (not really a band at all, but the nom de laptop of Minnesotan Adam Young) a serious, indie-minded synth-pop outfit, like the Postal Service, except more awkward? Or was it a Hot Topic knockoff, created by a pop savant who had managed to assemble a downmarket Postal Service facsimile in his basement?

Young’s latest hit, “Good Time,” will erase all doubt: A collaboration with “Call Me Maybe” overlord Carly Rae Jepsen, it might be history’s cheesiest teen pop song not actually performed by teenagers (Young and Jepsen are both 26). Its host organ, the gloppy, often enjoyable “The Midsummer Station,” suggests that Young is to emo-electro what Taylor Swift is to country music: a breathy ingenue only tangentially tied to the genre from which they came, less a future Hall of Famer than a feel-good delivery system for earnest songs about reaching for the sky, chasing rainbows and LOLCats (probably).

Much of “Midsummer” is well crafted and endearing, but it’s all heart and no spine, and most of its tracks feel like yearbook scribblings attached to danceable hooks. The worst offenders: the candy-coated angst-fest “Take It All Away” and the pubescent EDM of “Speed of Love,” with a chorus (”Everybody’s racing at the speed of love”) that should never be uttered by anyone old enough to drink. Or better yet, by anyone.

Allison Stewart

Recommended Tracks

“Good Time,” “Shooting Star”


Cover art for Owl City's album ’The Midsummer Station’ (Courtesy of Universal Republic)
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