Successful dance bands like Passion Pit, Cut Copy and even Foster the People make their impact with contradictory ideas. Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore who are known as Empire of the Sun go for a simpler approach on their second album.
When Empire of the Sun emerged in 2008, they were quite fascinating. Wearing costumes and producing pumping synth music similar to pop-culture carbon dating. “Walking on a Dream” was their hit that sent them to the big time, they had made it globally.
Since the first album they’ve have been touring internationally more or less nonstop since its release but over the past year the duo have returned to the studio in between their crazy touring schedule to produce their follow-up release.
Upon first listen to ‘Ice On The Dune’ you can instantly hear that music’s homemade quirks have burned off like cellulite. With their baby fat gone, Empire of the Sun are both more impressive and less distinctive; they’ve made the confusing half-leap from indie-gone-mainstream to not-quite pop stars.
The best moments of the new album are actually quite exhilarating: “Alive”, always a good song title and pop-song sentiment, arcs up into a shouted chorus that jabs you in the chest with every repeated “alive!” You will dance to this, especially when its surrounded by the synths’ popping carnival lights and spun sugar. “Awakening” pairs a humid Donna Summer thump with a creamy falsetto vocal straight from Toto. The midtempo “I’ll Be Around” is probably the highlight, and underlines how deftly Empire flit between eras: The same materials reworked slightly would also make an excellent Pains of Being Pure At Heart song.
It’s fair to say that the world desperately needs music like this.
When it comes to today’s mainstream electronic / pop music, there seems to be a glaring absence of intelligent, well-crafted music, and Empire Of The Sun have certainly delivered in this regard.
Ice on the Dune is a classic collection of glistening pop gems and it all comes together with the kind of consistency that runs throughout all classic albums.