Friday, August 24, 2012

The Midsummer Station Album Review

So I received my hard copy of this baby just yesterday and thought since I am way into music, I may as well take this golden opportunity to write a review for one of the hottest albums of summer, The Midsummer Station by Owl City.

Many fans have dissed his recent efforts claiming that Adam Young has gone all-out mainstreamed by using generic, unoriginal lyrics and completely changing in order to sell well. Only one thing is true in that statement, Adam HAS changed, but he isn't selling out (at least not yet). There are a few known reasons why his music seems so different to everyone.

Adam Young has come out of his caged-up-in-the-basement-alone stage in life and is more involved with his fans, friends, and family, all while getting some well-needed fresh air. Angry fans should at least be proud that he is indeed much healthier than before. 

Another factor is that he doesn't just have his basement and his keyboards and computer anymore, he's got a studio with higher quality equipment and the musical experts helping him out with everything. As a bonus, Matt Theissen was very involved with creating of The Midsummer Station, so die-hard Relient K fans should get some kicks from this album.

Now I could be wrong, but judging by Adam's blog posts and recent interviews (and listening to the CD myself) he seems to be far more focused on the musical part of his songs rather than the lyrical. The results were stunningly constructed instrumentation. What Midsummer Station has done to surpass Ocean Eyes, for example, is intensify the depths of sound and rhythm, putting emotions into the beats, and exploring corners of the world of music he's never been before. Through this he has brilliantly tied together his art with what's popular now. 

This is not to say that the creativity has been completely drained from the lyrics either. Traces of his old writing style are subtly laced throughout, namely in Dreams and DisastersEmbersSilhouette, and Metropolis. The new writing style is more simplified, emotional, and repetitive, but it is more relatable and easy to understand. Each song is written from different events that took place in his life, things that he took to heart, so lyrically there's just as much depth and perspective than any of his old stuff, it's just done in a different style. The Midsummer Station is meant to be enjoyed by a broader audience, and is definitely more fun.

No matter how depressing the subject, Young always seems to provide shades of light and a positive outlook in both his music and life experiences. And that is just what most critics hate about Owl City. They can't stand the fact that he won't express a strand of negativity or any form of edginess in his songs. But isn't that what critics should be acclaiming; something that is different? Haven't there been enough language-laden pop songs about sex, temporary relationships and partying? As someone who appreciates the generic along with the unique and the obscure, I found The Midsummer Station to be quite refreshing. 

Change can be difficult, but to an artist it's usually very good. The last thing any musician wants to do is have all their songs sound the same or be caught in a musical rut. Experimentation prevents one from getting bored or doing what's already done. As Adam Young himself puts it, he is "merely different colors and different brushstrokes over the same canvas". To my relief he's the same ol' Adam with his same love for musical art. He's simply coming at it with a different medium. With the whole "which Owl City do you like better" I'm like, 

Yes, indeed
Are these works not both considered art? They are  allowed to be admired equally.

Mm YEAH!!! 

While the haters mope around I'm going to indulge in the melodious beauty of my personal favorite tracks, Metropolis and Bombshell Bomb. 

Peace out, because I know you're gold! You are treasured!


  1. I do admit that some of his songs from the new album are catchy. I find myself singing them sometimes. But at this point I don't think they're worth buying unless I start to grow really fond of them (not sure how likely that is). I'm not really a big music expert or anything like you, and it's hard for me to notice 'genius' music or whatever. So for me it's the lyrics that do it, and honestly it seems like a significant drop in lyrical quality. Sure, the lyrics are still clean and reasonable. That's great. But I'm not looking for "okay." From Adam I've come to expect something above average and so this album is kind of disappointing to me with its repetitive, almost meaningless at times, lyrics. So far it just isn't doing it for me.

    I'm glad he's not cooped up in the basement, but I wonder if it's taken a toll on his creativity. As for me, I'd rather live in a basement and have amazing ideas than be famous and work with the big guys and feel totally drained all the time.

    I guess if I had discovered this album first out of all of Owl City's stuff, I might have thought it was decent, even good. But to me at least, it seems like a step down, so my thoughts are more of disappointment and 'eh.'

    That's just my opinion though. ^^;

  2. That is exactly how a lot of fans feel; that the quality was taken down and his words have no meaning. I beg to differ greatly. I think his lyrics have just as much depth and meaning as anything he's ever done, it's just done differently. I believe he's poured his heart into this CD as much as his old stuff, and his creativity definitely hasn't been lost either, he's just trying something new.

    On Ocean Eyes, things were seen from an imaginative and fantasy state-of-mind point of view, where situations took place in a fairy tale or a dream that he had at night. Midsummer Station's songs are written more from real-life experiences and many of the songs contain messages he wanted to communicate to certain people. He's always loved making music, and the stuff he's done before was way different from Ocean Eyes, so it's not like Ocean Eyes was necessarily his "original" way of doing things. In fact, as a college student, he was in a death metal band!

    What I'm saying is quality-wise I disagree that it's only "ok". It's constructed in a more poppy style, but it's still strong, even if it is repetitive. But if you prefer something more fictional than reality based, or thorough words more than simple, than yes, you are going to be disappointed with the Midsummer Station.

    I think the difference is he has more experience as a musician now, and wants to challenge the listener to engage with something unexpected. I love both Ocean Eyes and the Midsummer Station, I think they both reflect who he is beautifully. The big relief is that through all this he hasn't gone mainstream despite the rumors. Believe me I had my suspicions, but I was thankfully wrong, and (for now) Adam is still the same ol' Adam.

    I understand where you're coming at, though. Personally though I wouldn't want to be cooped up at all, especially for the sake of art. I don't think creativity should ever replace reality, because reality will teach me things I could never create on my own that are vital for growth. Guess that's the extravert in me. XD

    Dang, this was a long response. :P


So... What do YOU have to say about THAT?

Teal Moustache