I haven’t been a lot of places, seen a great deal of the world, or experienced a lot of things due to my shyness, and thus it’s allowed me to wonder what it’s all really like, putting a bit of an escapist, imaginative twist on it. One of the things I love the most about daydreaming is that it never lets the daydreamer down. Daydreams are not disappointing like life so often is, and I find that tremendously inspiring musically.
Maybe I’m Dreaming || Owl City
Self-Released: December 16, 2008 Happy Anniversary!
If you are going to ANY of the remaining concerts on the Mobile Orchestra tour then please read this!
As you guys have probably heard or seen by now, Adam hasn’t really been his usual excited bubbly self while performing on this tour. But recently at the Chicago leg of the tour a group of people say on the floor during This Isn’t the End. And more and more people joined and say with them. Adam had his eyes closed and was so into the song refused to open them.
I think it would be amazing if at each of the rest of the concerts to have everyone sit on the floor during This Isn’t the End. It’s by far the most personal song, and it is one of Adam’s favorites. Of all the songs on the track list I truly believe that This Isn’t the End deserves the most respect, and what better way to do that by sitting on the floor, not saying a word or screaming along with the lyrics, just soaking in every note that Adam sings.
I get that some places might be cramped standing, but It’s just for one song and even if Adam has his eyes closed when it happens and doesn’t see it, he’ll know it happened.
Please try and spread this word around. I think it would be the most amazing thing if we could make this happen.
A million things could be said about Adam’s music in the past five years. So many people, myself included, have watched his poetic, dreamscape lyrical style and upbeat synths melt away to make a more accessible, mainstream pop sound and so many fans have completely abandoned Adam and his music simply because they miss the original style that captured their attention to begin with.
With Mobile Orchestra, every fan was waiting (im)patiently to see exactly what direction was being taken, making this album a critical entry for most fans. Countless people have taken a firm stance that if this album doesn’t signify a return to form, that they’re no longer support Adam or his music.
With that said, you have to wonder, how did it turn out? As someone who often hails “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “Ocean Eyes” as his favorite albums of all time, not just from Adam, but in general, here’s my honest opinion, song by song.
1: Verge (feat. Aloe Blacc) - Verge is an odd song to lead the album and be the first single released. It’s “it’s your life!” empowerment angle combined with the repetitious lyrics aren’t really “Adam” in any way. Believe me, this whole album requires a mental preparation to an extent because if you’re expecting the Adam of old, it’s only here in small doses. It’s not a bad song, don’t get me wrong… it’s just generic. Thankfully, this is very much a one off.
2: I Found Love - One of the few solo songs on the album, I Found Love is a sweet, gorgeous tribute to All Things Bright and Beautiful combined with the early beats of Maybe I’m Dreaming with dark yet sweet lyrics (which is Adam’s speciality, after all). The song is a throwback through and through and hearing similar twinkles and synths that we’ve missed for years is refreshing and comforting. People who don’t like the other directions the album takes will most definitely find solace in this song, which is a contender for strongest song on the album.
3: Thunderstruck (feat. Sarah Russel) - Thunderstruck is an enigma. You imagine by the tone that album has taken so far that Thunderstruck is going to be a calm, emotional ballad that relies on guitar or piano notes and soft vocals, simply to contrast the different flavors on the album so far… and it’s the complete opposite of that… and I am in absolute love with this song. With a beat that can only be described as “The Midsummer Station polished to perfection” and the beautiful vocals added by Sarah Russel, Thunderstruck is the sort of poppy, European-trance sort of track you imagine will be blasted on the radio for the rest of the summer. The lyrics, while not exactly hitting any new territory, are perfect for the tune. The best part, however, is the 3 second long closing beat that is ripped straight from “How I Became The Sea.” It’s a nostalgic kick that put a smile on my face.
4: My Everything - Adam has never been shy about his faith or beliefs and he’s completely replaced subtext for outright praise for this song. It’s a nice, slow song all about praising and thanking God for everything he does, unfortunately, if you don’t personally believe, I can’t imagine you would get anything from the song. It’s very much a “one-note” sort of song, only pertaining to those who believe. So while I personally enjoy the song since I am the same faith, I’m guessing that won’t be the general opinion with some.
5: Unbelievable (feat. Hanson) - Perhaps the most fun song on the album, Unbelievable is all about how awesome the 90’s were. Jurassic Park, Zack Morris, Pogs and Lion King all get name dropped and the fact that Adam roped Hanson in for the song is, in itself, a massive throwback to hear their voices on a track. It’s just pure fun to listen to and for someone like me, hearing the line “When I was a kid, I spent my Saturday’s blowing on Nintendo games, the newest thing was Lion King and I could feel the love!” was hilarious, simply because of how relatable and true to reality it was.
6: Bird With A Broken Wing - This may be my favorite song on the album. Bird With A Broken Wing is like All Things Bright and Beautiful infused with Twenty One Pilots. No, really. The beat is something straight out of Vessel (The TOP album, that is) but with the violin and synth twinkle of ATBAB… the whole thing is amazing to listen to. Better yet, the lyrics are classic Adam. I’m almost scared to quote a single line, simply because of how amazing it was to hear for the first time but if you need an example of what I mean when I say “classic Adam”, the lyric “butterfly in the panic room” is used.
7: Back Home (feat. Jake Owen) - If you combined Garden Party with Home Of The Blues, you’d get Back Home. Jake Owen’s vocals are absolutely amazing and the lyrics are pure country, no pop to be found. Even as someone who doesn’t like country… at all, this is another highlight of the album. Oh, and Adam says “Fireflies.” Not in reference to the song or anything, just casually. But I still screamed when it happened.
8: Can’t Live Without You - Woah, this one is jarring to hear. I’m still in shock that the song title doesn’t end with a little tag that says “(feat. Zedd)” I really wish I had the words to describe it, but the song is reminiscent of the collaborative songs with Armin Van Burren, a single line or two with a swelling beat until a bass drop. It’s still very much Owl City, but it’s a completely new flavor we haven’t ever heard from Adam before. The highlight is easily the end of the song which cuts the beat all together and features Adam’s voiced layered three or four times over, it just sounds awesome. Other than that, like I said before, you’re getting a Zedd-esque Owl City song… And it’s just as bizarre as you think.
9: You’re Not Alone (feat. Britt Nicole) - Take everything I said about “My Everything” and note that Britt Nicole adds a soft verse and that’s my opinion on the song. I still love it, but again, Adam is very clear and unashamed of his faith and those who don’t believe won’t get much out of this. Plus, this was released as a single (along with Tokyo, which doesn’t appear on the album at all which is… weird.) months ago so chances are, most of you have heard it already.
10: This Isn’t The End - Given that this was available on the Ultraviolet EP for a year or so now, there’s a good chance you’ve heard it before as well. This Isn’t The End is a powerful song about suicide and death and loss and more importantly, the will to survive. It’s a different beast from Adam’s songs in the past which usually tip-toe’d around subjects like this with dark metaphors or symbolism. This time, Adam tells the story of a young girl who’s father killed himself. The song is just as powerful now as when I heard it a year ago, losing none of it’s raw impact, and the message is something that you should take away… the issue is, it’s so out of place on this album. Despite having so many different flavors, all of the songs generally have a lightness to them and don’t dwell on the heavier subjects for long which makes this song, the closer on the album, a massive buzzkill. It’s like watching a comedy movie with a group of your friends then immediately afterwards turning on Blue Valentine. Making Verge the opener and This Isn’t The End the closer is very weird to me, how the album starts on one end of the spectrum in mood, style, lyrical and instrumental tone, then ends with a soft piano song about overcoming death and loss. It’s an absolutely beautiful and amazing song, but it was a much better fit on Ultraviolet, whereas “Up All Night” would have instead fit like a glove as the closer here.
Mobile Orchestra is… Mobile Orchestra. It isn’t Maybe I’m Dreaming. It isn’t Of June. It isn’t Ocean Eyes. It isn’t All Things Bright and Beautiful and it isn’t The Midsummer Station.
It’s nothing we’ve heard before and that’s exactly what Adam himself has promised and cautioned ever since the album was announced. You have small tastes of the old albums in some beats and lyrics, or in “Bird With A Broken Wing”’s case, you have a complete reinvention of the old work.
In all honesty, I love the album. But I loved The Midsummer Station too.
Even though they aren’t similar at all, the point is that you need to go into the album with a level head and an open mind. You’re going to hear things you never thought Adam would make or say, and that isn’t a bad thing.
Where people felt TMSS went too “mainstream”, Mobile Orchestra completely addresses the problem, just not at all how you expect.
I think it’s fair to say that if you needed Adam to return to Ocean Eye’s style for you to remain a fan that he’s already lost you and if he hasn’t yet, this will be the final nail in the coffin. Adam has completely reinvented Owl City with this album.
In closing, Adam’s tagline for the album was simple.
“It’s 2015, Owl City is back.”
He makes good on the promise too… He really is back… but it’s a whole new set of genres.
As a long time super-fan of all of Adam’s work from Port Blue to Sky Sailing to of course, Owl City, Mobile Orchestra isn’t what I thought it would be. It’s better. But it’s new and different. So, before you hit play for the first time, open yourself up.
This is how Adam wanted to express himself. This was his vision. Even if it’s a bit jarring, this is a new chapter… and I loved it.