Empire of the Sun: Walking On A Dream (LP)
10th Anniversary Ltd Edn on Blood Orange 180gm Vinyl
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Empire of the Sun - Walking On A Dream
OK, let’s just spear the elephant in the room: Empire Of The Sun are really, really like MGMT. This Sydney duo (duo!) have arrived bearing blissful psych-pop with visions of a New World Order Of Shagging For Peace siphoned directly from the Wesleyan College acid pool. You get the same nasal vocals and, right from opener ‘Standing On The Shore’, the hippy dribble flows freely too: “The future’s in my hands/I hold it in my palms/Engrave it in the leylines running/Right down her arms”... Which is where we can begin to separate the two: Empire are funnier.
Daring to look silly is a fine quality in a musician, mind. Bowie, Iggy, even Slade took the risk and triumphed, and Empire could pull it off too – if your songs are good enough, no-one will call you a dick. The ludicrousness of ‘We Are The People’ and ‘Walking On A Dream’ doesn’t stop them from being sensational. Both have sunshiny choruses which hook into your perineum and drag you upwards, with ‘Walking On A Dream’’s mantra of “We are always running for the thrill
of it, thrill of it” marking it as their ‘Time To Pretend’.
This is no hopping on the tie-dyed bandwagon, though: Steele is the talented and temperamental frontman of The Sleepy Jackson, the Aussie alt.rock group whose 2003 album ‘Lovers’ provides the template for Empire: seductive melodies, memorable hooks and (pre-VanWyngarden!) those ethereal vocals. Littlemore is a member of Pnau, whose trippy tribal pop also feeds directly into this side-project. Together, they’ve written an inspired succession of songs which transcend any marketing angle and whose musical origins precede MGMT. So there.
If both occupy the same island, Empire are on the side with the hot springs. ‘Standing On The Shore’ conjures up a beach party where Hall & Oates play volleyball against David Byrne and James Murphy. ‘Half Mast’ is a Balearic dream with a sublime chorus that simply goes, “Oh, oh, honey I need you ’round, I know”. When the sun sets, spaceships light up the sky and Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack echoes across ‘The World’, a meditation on that whole death thing which still manages to sound like The Thin White Duke in a good mood. Indeed you could call the whole album ‘‘Low’ By The Sea’, such is its warm take on surrealist grandeur; ‘Tiger By My Side’ is both disturbing and dancey and ‘Without You’ is a Bowie-esque tragedy referencing ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Vienna’. - Martin Robinson nme.com
|A1||Standing On The Shore|
|A2||Walking On A Dream|
|A4||We Are The People|
|B3||Swordfish Hotkiss Night|
|B4||Tiger By My Side|