Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Owl City’s career may have mostly collapsed after 2012, but his second album Ocean Eyes defined electro-pop music of the early 2010s. Released in 2009, Ocean Eyes contains a myriad of sunshine-y, light, electric pop hits.
Of course, the album would be nothing without its Billboard 100 hit, “Fireflies.” From middle school dance playlists to tween radio stations, “Fireflies” was everywhere back in 2009. The lyrics make no sense, even though every 12 year old of the era thought the meaning of life lay hidden among them. In essence, it’s a song about insomnia and bugs, which apparently have an affinity for hugging. The pseudo-bass drop before the second chorus mixed with the staccatoed, xylophone-like pops of sound make “Fireflies” an upbeat, confusing and downright funky dance hit.
But there is so much more to Owl City’s Ocean Eyes than its pinnacle single. “Hello Seattle” features similar sounds to “Fireflies,” but pays homage to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Singer Adam Young embodies various characters of nature throughout the song, including a manta ray and an albatross. Though not a native Seattleite, Young describes the beauty of Puget Sound, from the Sound itself to the neighboring mountains.
The penultimate track on Ocean Eyes, however, takes a much slower, romantic turn. “Vanilla Twilight” laments over an absent love. Though the electronica elements are still present, Young also incorporates light piano and more whispered vocals, adding to the melancholy but calming sound. In the final verse, the key changes, and the song becomes more uplifting and hopeful for the future.
While Owl City himself has become mostly obsolete, Ocean Eyes remains a pop classic. The light electronica and Young’s soft, calming voice create a sunshiny sound, perfect for summer bike rides and lemonade stands.