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Album Review: Owl City "All Things Bright And Beautiful"


"Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there," Owl City's Adam Young sings on his new album, clearly outlining the underlying escapist emotion that inspired the record. The aptly-titled "All Things Bright And Beautiful" is the much-anticipated follow up to 2009's "Ocean Eyes" that shot up the album charts after the massive global success of his hit single "Fireflies."

Deeply rooted in hyper-melodic synth pop, Young is a master at crafting pristine and feel-good pop gems. The singer, who is notoriously shy and famously talented, uses his music to paint a whimsical world of butterflies, angels, astronauts, bees and sunny skies that is loaded with an uplifting message of hope and imagination.

On "All Things Bright And Beautiful," this modern-day Christopher Cross challenged himself to divert a little from his signature synth pop sound by successfully exploring a few new sonic textures that may surprise some. Good examples are his gentle experimentations with hip hop on "Alligator Sky" (that features Los Angeles MC Shawn Christopher) and the Euro dance pop stylings of "The Yacht Club" that he recorded with Lights' singer Valerie Poxleitner.

But Owl City truly shines when delivering delicate and romantic pop tracks like "Galaxies," "Angels" and "Hospital Flowers" that should please the same crowd that embraced "Fireflies" in a such a big way.

Very personal is the song "January 28, 1986" that includes a sample of a memorial speech U.S. president Reagan delivered after the space shuttle Challenge disaster. Young was born in 1986 and he wrote the song to convey what it was like to be from the year that was marked by such a big national tragedy.

Regardless of his mild sonic experimentations, Young never strays too far from the sound that resonated with so many. "All Things Bright And Beautiful" delivers exactly the dreamy and joyous sunburst pop that his fans crave for. It may at times be formulaic to some, but endlessly imaginative to most.

Owl City "All Things Bright And Beautiful" will be available on June 14.