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Empire Of The Sun - 'Without You'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:18 UK time, Friday, 22 January 2010

Empire Of The Sun

If 2010 is going to be the year in which we reap the benefits of Lady GaGa's hard work, in raising the bar representing what is expected of pop stars - specifically in relation to dressing up like a weirdo and being enigmatic - then Empire of the Sun deserve a special mention for raiding the theatrical wardobe a whole year early.

Even if their music is not for everyone, they do provide a clue as to what the male pop star should be thinking about wearing for the next 12 months if they wish to compete. Never mind the easily-raised vests and low-slung jeans of yer JLS, never mind the Buble suit or the Ne-Yo hat. All of these things are too easy, and therefore officially Part Of The Problem.

2010 is the year in which we should be reasonable, and demand the impossible. We demand a big white stripe across the eyes, we demand vertical hair like Rhydian styling Jedward into a 99 with no flake, and most of all, we demand a huge pair of wings, on EVERYTHING.

(Here's the video. Jack Johnson would not make this, it is fair to say.)

Now, this where being reasonable comes in. It's possible that pop stars might find it hard to bring home the double whammy of astonishing songs and a cavalcade of eye-peelingly great looks. Some of them are only human after all (not you, GaGa, relax). The trade-off between a good look and a good song was, until recently, just something we all had to learn to put up with.

The trouble was, some people misinterpreted this situation in order to claim that having a good look proves that you do NOT have a good song. Which would therefore mean that it is only those performers who look ordinary that can properly concentrate on making amazing music. This meant that artists had to deliberately avoid dressing well, in order to give their bad songs the 'credibility' of a poor wardrobe. Which is mad.

It's confusing. People need clarity. So here's what I propose:

I propose a reunification of sound and vision. I propose that pop stars should remember to look amazing at all times, and to sound incredible, even in the live arena. If this means they need to stand still sometimes, well, so be it. Let the wardrobe carry the eye, and don't forget to bring the songs.

However, under the strict new guidelines, even Empire of the Sun may yet struggle. They do have a great look, that's for sure. What they don't have is a song which truly matches it. They're pretty close, but there's something a bit mushy and soft about what they do, like it's slightly blurred and brown when it should be in hyperfocus and glorious primarytechnicolourvision.

This would not matter if they were a blurry, browny kind of band, but look at them, they're a feast for the eyes. It's not their fault that the meal they serve up for the ears has a whiff of the Bovril on toast to it. But if we are to embrace a new dawn of astonishing sensurround pop, everyone, even Luke Steele, is going to have to try a bit harder.

Three starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: January 18th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Spirit? Hello? This is an Empire of the Sun review. Your comments are expected, nay demanded.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's a shame , the video on this site links to the WALKING ON A DREAM video and not the WITHOUT YOU video , which will confuse the viewer .

    Also going by the review I'm not sure which song is being reviewed as it doesn't seem to stipulate or mention anything about the specific song .

    Nay bother , I will comment on WITHOUT YOU .

    As many of you are aware , the WALKING ON A DREAM album is one of my favourites of the last decade , and has been noticed positively by the Brit Panel , who have nominated it for Best International Album .

    The album version of WITHOUT YOU , was a slow ballad that pleasantly closed the album in an unremarkable way .

    The single version utilises Luke's original vocal and adds an unremarkable backing track that has no real originality or spark to captivate the listener or win over new fans .
    The idea from a big cheese was to remix this track and then release a special edition of the album with the new version on it , and expect people to buy the new version.

    Can u hear the sound of a cash cow being milked by a frisky financial farmer ?
    I can !

    This new version has rightly been passed over by the Radio 1 Playlist Panel, and I really do not see it being a top 20 hit . It is bland, and just slushy pleasantness that is forgotten like last week's snow !


    This is an opportunity missed . I personally and professionally love EMPIRE OF THE SUN , but I like to a very small degree , the remix of WITHOUT YOU as a single .

  • Comment number 5.

    Commerciality over art , does not always win out !

    Exhibit A ,your honour.....


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