EMPIRE OF THE SUN - Walking On A Dream (Virgin Records)
There’s something strangely compelling about the debut album from new ‘super-group’ duo, Empire of the Sun...
Indeed, you’d be hard-pushed this year to finding a weirder and more wonderful new collection of songs than Walking On A Dream.
But it’s difficult to put an exact tag-line on the overall sound which veers from the familiar to the downright surreal.
Think Gary Numan having an alt.country makeover, Lindsey Buckingham having an Air moment or Brian Wilson getting into a studio for a jam with Daft Punk — and you’ll be on your way to at least a fair understanding of this Aussie-based project.
Led by Luke Steele from superb Perth band The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore from the electro outfit Pnau, Empire of the Sun, named after a JG Ballard novel and a Spielberg blockbuster, is simply an act like no other.
A cursory listen will unearth a throwback to the 1980s sound complete with Human League-like electronica and Depeche Modey drum machines. But delve deeper and you’re left with spine-tingling twisted disco pop with over-the-top swooning orchestration and hooks sunk into a delicate wash of sound.
There’s also an avant-garde psychedelic approach to the album — like a strange sort of fusion between hippy and punk.
However, there is also enough pop-orientated stuff to make the album accessible for the two-up, two-down listener.
Importantly, for the listener, each segment of each song is dealt with in the same immaculate way with every tune on the album sublimely crafted. That way, the quality of the product always shines through.
The big bonus is that Steele’s echo vocals are a dead ringer for Jim James’, he of alt.country kings My Morning Jacket.
Several tracks — Standing on the Shore and Delta Bay — are in the outstanding bracket but in truth there are no duff moments.