So the new 4-track Owl City EP, “Shooting Star”, a precursor to an upcoming full length album, has leaked. I’ve mentioned a few times that “All Things Bright & Beautiful” was one of my favorite albums of last year, so I’ve been pretty eager to hear this.
Whether it’s due to label pressure or other reasons, this time around there’s other producers involved (previous material has all been self-produced). Hit-team Stargate (Ne-Yo, Beyonce, Rihanna, Katy Perry) co-produced the title track with Owl City (or Adam Young if you want to use his real name). And it’s pretty evident. I was ambivalent about this, because Owl City’s unique sound is what drew me in in the first place. You guys know what I mean - when “Fireflies” hit airwaves back in 2009, it didn’t sound like anything else on the radio. But the track works. I don’t quite dig it as much as anything on the previous release, but it’s still a pretty great track.
The second track, “Dementia” is also a departure from previous Owl City material, but this time in a more rock direction, with featured vocals from Mark Hoppus of Blink 182. I like this track a whole lot.
Track 3, “Gold” is pretty phenomenal. I’m not sure who co-produced this one (perhaps Stargate again?) but it doesn’t feel like a solo Owl City production. It has a huge pop hook with a stuttered effect and is ridiculously catchy.
The final track, “Take It All Away” is a solid track too. This one was co-produced by a guy named Koool Kojack, who has previously worked with Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj. Again, I like it, but the change in direction overall has definitely thrown me a little bit.
I’m going to need a few more listens to let it all sink in, but the message here is clear. Owl City wants to sell some more records. The unique sound from previous albums has been diluted and overall everything is more homogeneous with the current radio zeitgeist. Is that a bad thing? Depends on your perspective. Whilst the previous album was brilliant, in my opinion, it didn’t set charts on fire the way it should have done. This record seems to be aimed at rectifying that situation, making new fans while not alienating existing ones. There’s something that’s been lost - definitely - but the fact remains that the new songs are incredibly good, too. New fans won’t care, and existing ones might be a little disappointed but that feeling will likely pass.
Now, bring on the album!