CD reviews we couldn’t fit into Saturday’s paper — Owl City, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Martin Solveig
“The Midsummer Station” (Republic Records)
Owl City’s “The Midsummer Station” sounds like the soundtrack for one of those Nickelodeon or Disney TV movies you either enjoyed as a tween or endured as an adult. With generic pop-rock songs, it makes for passable entertainment, but ultimately it’s formulaic and forgettable.
It’s a far cry from Owl City’s breakout hit, 2009’s “Fireflies.” As grating as that song may have been to some, its quirky charm made it stand out from the rest of the pop pack. With this new album, Adam Young, the man behind the Owl City moniker, goes for a sound that we’ve heard countless times on top 40 radio: Upbeat grooves that attempt to have an anthemic feel, with a little bit of dance-synth thrown in for good measure. It doesn’t help matters that Young’s voice is defined by its lack of soul.
Carly Rae Jepsen provides the rare spark that lifts “Good Time,” while ballad “Silhouette” is one of the rare songs that makes you feel something, albeit melancholy.
But in general, “The Midsummer Station” doesn’t generate much emotion, from either its main performer — or its listeners.
— Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
“Mature Themes” (4AD)
“Mature Themes” is a record that could have come from another planet, which is the strongest selling point to anyone vaguely interested in music that challenges. By the time the album reaches “Baby” – which feels like a bit of an encore given its positioning in the track list, and a song that Pink clearly loves (he even contributed an audio interview to the recent reissue of the album “Baby” originally hails from) – you feel like you have experienced the music, rather than just be passively be moved by it. “Mature Themes” is a somewhat challenging record, one that makes every effort to repel and entrance listeners in equal measure. It is, after all, the album that Pink wanted to make before “Before Today” or simply, for that matter, before today.
— Zachary Houle, PopMatters.com
“Smash” (Big Beat Records)
With his boyish looks and catchy tunes, it was just a matter of time before Martin Solveig made it to the big leagues, aka the United States. The French-born electronic DJ-producer has been toiling at the decks for almost two decades before catching both America’s ear with his outgoing “Hello” and Madonna’s, for whom he produced three tracks on her latest album, “MDNA,” including the hit “Give Me All Your Luvin.’” Solveig also worked as the house DJ at this year’s MTV Movie Awards.
With the U.S. release of his fifth studio album, “Smash,” Solveig wins the award for the longest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean: The album has been out in Europe for more than a year. Although it starts out as largely homogenous and nerve-dulling with its unrelenting beats, the album manages to smash through the blood-brain barrier and infect the listener with its optimistic vibe and fun lyrics.
Canadian electro-pop band Dragonette snaps up most of the dance-inducing collaborations. You cannot stop listening to “Can’t Stop,” and the playful “Boys and Girls,” where Solveig and Dragonette’s frontwoman court one another, is the most fun they’ll ever have without stripping off their nuance.
Overall, “Smash” is likable, but the 13-track record is disappointingly one-quarter remixes of Solveig’s bigger hits. The successful “Big in Japan” and the international jam “Hello” are gung-ho harmless, but not the best listings on the sleeve. And “Get Away From You” is a strange throwback to 1990s British punk rock, though Solveig imbues it with appealing synth.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: “Ready to Go” kicks you in high gear right from the get-go.
— Cristina Jaleru, Associated Press