Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MUSIC REVIEW: Ice On The Dune (2013) - Empire Of The Sun

The follow-up to the successful Walking On A Dream, Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore return after 4 years of silence. They've been known for combining experimental electronics with groovy riffs to form their unique sound, but this time around sees them dropping the avant-garde experimentation for a more mainstream pop approach. As Steele said in an interview, they'd like to see some top 40 action with this album.

Album opener, Lux, and album closer, Keep A Watch are really the only two tracks that have some semblance of their earlier work. DNA is a nice transition from Lux into the rest of the album, as it's a sort of segue between the two sounds.

Where this album falters is that almost every song sounds the same, and each seems to be compressed to all hell. Each track has a set of sparkling, glossy synths that wash in and out and really drown out any specifics in many of the chorus', making many of the songs feel very one-dimensional, in spite of their layers.

The middle of this album is the best part of it. I could see myself jamming to Awakening through Surround Sound any day, and is where Steele's goal of top 40 action seems possible (although Old Flavours, Celebrate, and Disarm have practically the same chord progressions in their chorus). I do have to give Old Flavours credit, though, as it's been my summer jam. I've been blasting it out of my car every chance I get - I can't get enough of it!

Undoubtedly, though, the best track on this album is I'll Be Around. It's a modern take on the 80's; one of the few to actually make me feel like I'm in a time period prior to my conception. A very romantic slow jam that screams to be a single.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ice on the Dune, it's a lot of fun, but that's about it. Steele may be aiming for top 40, but Walking On A Dream did great for all of it's weirdness! I hope with their next effort, they bring back some of the avant-garde elements that make people say "What the hell?" Because that's what their best at, and I think that's what will get them attention. In their defense, though, everyone keeps comparing them to MGMT, and they probably just want to run as far away from that as possible.

Best tracks: Awakening, I'll Be Around, Old Flavours

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