From a glance at the nauseatingly 80s, Siegfried and Roy-esque album cover of Empire of The Sun’s forthcoming release of ‘Walking on a Dream’, you get a fair idea of what might follow sonically. This album is another offering from Australia’s small but so far innovative electro scene, hailing bands such as Cut/Copy, The Presets and The Midnight Juggernauts. Neither of the band’s frontmen are strangers to the business, Luke Steel being from the little known band Sleepy Jackson, while Nick Littlemore was one half of dance duo Pnau. However, this album fails to win any points for being edgy or innovative as they bear a little too much similarity to a certain four-letter band who are particularly popular at the moment (sounds like schmem-gmt).
The album’s first single, ‘Walking on a dream’, is a synth-infused pop track with airy strings and a catchy chorus, but despite its merits, the pseudo 80s sound comes across as a little contrived and more than a little unimaginative. This is slightly amended by Steel’s vocals, which switch to soaring falsettos at will, giving the album a unique touch. Stylistic similarity could be drawn with David Bowie, musical blasphemy though that comparison may be. They continue in this way through the tracks ‘Half Mast’ and ‘Tiger by My Side’, which are not altogether bad, but fail to dazzle or excite.
A track with a little more to show, ‘Delta Ray’, would probably raise the standard but the horrible vocal effects which poison the song. The same can be said for ‘Country’, an ethereal instrumental spoiled by unconvincing Country & Western guitar parts. Not all the tracks are lifeless or obnoxious though; second single contestant ‘Swordfish Hotkiss Night’ is slightly better, employing an upbeat disco tempo and vocals reminiscent of Prince. In general, this album is not terrible, yet lacks something significant: possibly originality, possibly soul. Whatever it is, it certainly makes for mediocre music.