Australian electronic music duo, Empire of the Sun, burst into the new-wave scene with their debut album Walking on a Dream. With striking similarities (and yet unlike) to MGMT, the duo’s charm lies with their strange music videos, outlandish costumes, tripping-on-drugs lyrics and of course stellar music.
Coming after 5 years, Ice on the Dune was a much awaited album. Especially since Empire of the Sun has had the time to work with some big names in the music industry (Usher, Beyonce, Jay-Z to name a few) and groom themselves.
The album starts off with Lux. Grandiose is the only way to describe it. Egyptian-esque elements included, it would fit perfectly into the score of some sci-fi movie.
DNA is great a dance-able track. Dance-able tracks generally lacking in Walking on a Dream, Empire of the Sun seems to have caught onto the formula of holding onto their sound while making tracks that’ll appeal to the masses at large.
Alive. This track alone has propelled Empire of the Sun from being generally unheard of to being on their way to electronic stardom. It’s been used for so many adverts now that it’s impossible to have not heard this song! Catchy, and an anthem of sorts about the joy of living – it has everything you need in a song for it to become a earworm.
Concert Pitch keeps the album upbeat after Alive. The pace of the album quickens from here and leads to an even quicker Ice on the Dune.
I can imagine Ice on the Dune being covered by Katy Perry. There’s something very ‘Teenage Dream’ about it.The “Ooooh let’s go running away, we can always be together”s resonate of being young, reckless and in love.
Awakening is a catchy song (I am so tired of using the word catchy), you could spend hours just trying to say ‘Awakening’ the way Luke Steele does.
I’ll Be Around has to be my favourite on the entire album, hands down. The soft, tender vocals and music had me hooked from the first listen. It works like a patronus on any kind of feelings of insecurity whatsoever. (Maybe, I’m being overtly emotive about this song, but that’s what it does to me!)
Pumping out powerful beats and unobtrusive vocals, Old Favours is the perfect track for working out or listening to while at the gym. It has a sort of inconspicuous barrel of energy packed into it. Likewise with Celebrate. Empire of the Sun’s songs don’t have a build-up and then sudden release of energy (like bass drops) but more like an undercurrent running through the song continuously.
From all the songs, Surround Sound and Disarm were the only songs that made me see any similarity with Empire of the Sun’s songs on Walking on Dream. Surround Sound coming from Empire of the Sun’s early recording sessions, it gives a lot of insight into the whole evolutionary process of Empire of the Sun’s music from 2008 to now.
The last track, Keep A Watch is mellow track (also reminiscent of Walking on a Dream). Unfortunately it turned out to be a miss. The vocals started annoying me midway through the song and that is not how I want to end my listen to an otherwise great album.
While Walking on a Dream was like a raw, uncut diamond. Ice on the Dune is the polished and finely structured version of that diamond. All of Empire of the Sun’s songs on the record have a sleeker sound and a charming finesse compared to their debut album. It’s quite evident that every note in every song was strung together very consciously and with meticulous precision this time.
There is nothing sloppy about this album at all. Nothing. Empire of the Sun spent their 5 years well.
Thoroughly enjoyable, this was a plethora of catchy songs, a polarity of upbeat and mellow. Indeed, most of the songs on this album could stand alone as singles very successfully.
I’m looking forward to the next album from Empire of the Sun very, very eagerly.
I doubt they’ll disappoint.