Success hasn't spoiled him yet.
Owl City's Adam Young has a very specific sound -- a simple mix of naive vocals and optimistic synths -- that connected in a big way with the playful surprise smash hit "Fireflies" and his platinum-selling debut "Ocean Eyes." Would interacting with the world outside his Owatonna, Minn., bedroom alter that magical combination? Apparently not.
"All Things Bright and Beautiful" (Universal Republic) finds Owl City basically in the same happy-go-lucky place, but Young's gotten sharper lyrically and brought some new influences into his musical world.
Yes, a bit of hip-hop has rolled into Owl City. But don't worry, Young's sweet vocals on "Alligator Sky" fit nicely against guest rapper Shawn Christopher, and it's actually a nice change of pace to hear him get riled up during "Kamikaze."
He rocks a bit on the emo-pop-tinged "Deer in the Headlights," and he delivers touching vocals on the post-accident ballad "Hospital Flowers," which is kind of crying out for a "Grey's Anatomy" montage.
But Young is best in bringing innocence to life. ("Don't remind me that some days I'm the windshield and other days, I'm just a lucky bug," he sings in "Honey and the Bee.") The charming, upbeat dance number "Galaxies" is irresistible even before its Eurodisco-driven refrain, while the anthemic "The Yacht Club" blossoms into a full disco stomp.
Owl City may not have a wide range, but it does build a very specific, unique brand of pop incredibly well.
"All Things Bright and Beautiful"
THE GRADE A-
BOTTOM LINE One million fans and 10 million fireflies can't be wrong