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Album: Owl City, Ocean Eyes, (Universal Republic)

Reviewed by Andy Gill

It's a commonplace assumption that the vocoder autotune effect so liberally splashed across modern pop vocals is mainly used to disguise the shortcomings of pitch-challenged singers.

And while that's undoubtedly true for some performers – no names, no pack drill, your honour – there may be other reasons for its current ubiquity. In the case of Owl City's Adam Young and his vocal ally Matthew Thiessen, for instance, it's possibly being used to disguise the embarrassment at having to mouth some of the drippiest lyrics ever committed to disk, lines so wet one can imagine the lips instinctively puckering in disgust. You're undoubtedly familiar with "Fireflies", the insect-analogising chart-topper, one of several natural-history metaphors employed in these dozen songs; that's bad enough, though it's very nearly poetry compared to the saccharine likes of "Vanilla Twilight" and especially "On the Wing", with its promise to "carry you away into the velvet sky, and we'll stir the stars around", and its pondering over whether someone is "just a decoy dream in my head". Small wonder that Ocean Eyes has driven grown men to spitting fits of rage, with its wan, plaintive little songs couched in lightweight electropop arrangements whose affinities with The Postal Service are too brazen to overlook. But even those too young to know better should be warned: the single is the best thing here, by an immeasurable distance.

Download this Fireflies; Cave In

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