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Owl City - 'Umbrella Beach'

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Fraser McAlpine | 03:01 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

Owl City

A confession: I'm writing this at 3am. I had to. See, I read this interview with Adam Young on the BBC Slink site, in which he explains his battle with insomnia, and how it has affected his working life, and it seemed like the best way to really appreciate his work - or at least, gain an understanding as to why his work is the way it is - would be to try and go to the wellspring of his inspiration. Lack of sleep is the key.

Now, I'm someone who normally finds Owl City's output to be a little whiny, a smidge twee, a trifle over-reliant on autotune. To such an extent that, by the end of one solid listen to the album, I was desperate for some red meat, some AC/DC and a fight with a bear.

(Here's the video. It's crafty.)

But that was during the day. Now it's the middle of the night, and reality seems a bit stretched and thin. Suddenly the eurodance backing seems less cheesy, somehow the whispersoft vocal becomes more dreamy, as my tired and overheated brain starts to confuddle the line between what is real and what is imaginary.

I tried to write that exact thought down about five minutes ago, and then realised I hadn't switched the computer on. Then I was staring at the back of my hands as if they'd suddenly become unfamiliar to me.

I find I'm grateful for the blasts of syntrumpet, for the backwash of Netto Pet Shop Boys synthpop, cos they're doing what the coffee has long since failed at, namely keeping my brain focussed. I also find the lyrics start to make a crazy sort of sense, in the way that unreasoned things tend to sparkle in the middle of the night.

I'm all like "underwater ferris wheel? Cool!" and then "uh, my feet are too hot" and finally "*deep sigh* Tomorrow I am really gone SORT MY LIFE OUT, things have been going on for TOO LONG and I need to just START making everything BETTER. How hard can it be? And...hey, I like that twittery breakdown section, that's purdy!"

Now, I should really think of a way to finish this before I fall asleep on the keybssgaasgrnrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

Three starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: May 17th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

The Beat Review says: "You can hear positivity from the track which makes it absolutely radio friendly."

Strangeglue says: "From Umbrella Beaches ridiculously over-used bass thump to Dental Care's stupidly poppy structure and lyrics, the record just seems to get worse and worse."

Emily Is Smiling says: "Adam Young's style of writing is both descriptive and imaginative."



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