Adam Young, aka Mr. Owl City, makes it sound easy.
The streamlined dance pop that fills his fifth album, "The Midsummer Station" (Universal Republic), is so deceptively simple he even seems to reference it in his current irresistible smash with Carly Rae Jepsen, "Good Time." "We don't even have to try," they practically giggle in harmony. "It's always a good time."
Ah, but that straightforward and carefree feeling -- which also drove Owl City's breakthrough smash, "Fireflies" -- takes work. Young is a master at stripping away unnecessary layers to make sure his catchy, lighter-than-air melodies take flight and stay aloft.
Sure, he uses big beats to drive parts of "The Midsummer Station," giving the gloriously glitchy "Speed of Love" and the rock-leaning "Dementia," featuring blink-182's Mark Hoppus, some dynamic lift. He also keeps his sense of humor, making a fun police siren sound that becomes the focus of the swooping "I'm Coming After You."
However, Young really is at his best when he is quietest, delivering uncertain bedroom confessions in his most vulnerable voice. The way he softly delivers worries like "There were days when each hour was a war that I fought to survive" in "Embers" makes his rallying chorus feel even more powerful. And despite the trappings of its timely production, the lovely piano ballad "Silhouette" feels timeless, perhaps as memorable in the long run as "Good Time."
Of course, for now, we'll all just enjoy the good time.
"The Midsummer Station"
BOTTOM LINE Woh-oh, oh-oh oh, oh oh oh, it's (almost) always a good time.