Sunday, October 4, 2009

Owl City - Ocean Eyes

There's definitely something to be said for catchy music. The instant buzz you get from a song that zips through your synapses is a powerful thing. It could be argued that pop music, from the beginning, has mainly been concerned with creating songs that stay in the listener's head for as long as possible. Even before the audio recording revolution, musical Darwinism kept only the catchiest tunes alive in the ears of the masses.

This mentality is partly to blame for the explosion of DIY music-makers on YouTube and the Internet in general, peddling their hooks and jockeying for listeners. While perhaps equally noteworthy is the new movement of independent artists intentionally going against the stereotypical made-for-radio sound, most of what we hear today belongs to that pursuit-of-pleasantness school so often associated with mainstream pop.

Adam Young is one such artist. His project, Owl City (or O-Town, as my pal Mitch likes to call it) is the most recent band to conquer my iTunes Recently Played list with a campaign consisting solely of electronic beats, blips, and synths. Ocean Eyes, Young's latest album, is practically a how-to tape on creating instantly-appealing songs with just a basement full of tech. Think The Postal Service, but more accessible and more teenager. There's even some Imogen Heap in there.

Now, one of the things I've noticed about bands with catchy music is that the catchier their songs are, the more homogeneous their body of work becomes. For example: The Beach Boys, or Mates of State. I haven't listened to all of Young's albums, but judging solely from his most recent two, Maybe I'm Dreaming and Ocean Eyes, the threat is definitely there. Still, with music this bright and downright enjoyable, it's hard to fault him for sticking with a formula that works and has won him a cache of (mostly female) fans.

I recommend Owl City if you're looking for some feel-good songs to round out your library, but don't expect anything groundbreaking. Not all music should be "deep", or even "moving", and Adam Young is an excellent alternative to the pop drivel usually served up to fulfill that role.

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