Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream (Virgin 2009)

The culmination of The Sleepy Jackson’s psychedelic Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore of Pnau fame, inspired by JG Ballard, 80s Bowie and synth-pop mashing up with indie yelps, the album ‘Walking on a Dream’, is a beguiling yet enthralling collaboration. Electronic and spacey, like the musical equivalent of Labyrinth and Flash Gordon, this is accessible fun 80s pop. Together, the pair's 1980s-influenced soft pop synthesisers and blissed-out space beats have already taken them into the Australian top 10. The music is coupled with a striking image of two colourful, cosmic crusaders that has been inspired by movie characters and rosily-remembered childhood idols. The music is so light and fluffy, with pulsing guitars, spacious harmonies, and that thud-thud one-drop of the eighties drum pad. Steele squeals vaguely about love and friends and those ambiguous themes that makes pop so electric and instantly relatable to any casual listener, while Littlemore’s synths are eerie yet swelling up throughout the mix, exploding on every frequency. ‘We Are the People’ feels like their most obvious collaboration considering their day jobs, a psychedelic plaintive acoustic guitar and Sleepy Jackson vocals over Panu-esque electronics. 'Delta Bay' invokes the deranged vocoder of an evil genius to deliver some menacing spoken word over clashing harmonies and jangling keyboards. The rest of the album is pure pop joy, frivolous and designed to mask them from their everyday jobs, their usual schticks, in the same way that Neon Neon took Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip away from the psychedelic indie/experimental blip hop they were famed for. The result of Empire of the Sun is a batshit crazy frivolity in that classic Noughties reinvention of bad 80s synth-pop, all angular and squeal-some with irony oozes from its every pad and shimmer-effect.


No comments: