I’ve heard some of this record before. Electronica is not ordinarily my thing, but this is pretty infectious. If the first track doesn’t grab you, skip down to “Fireflies” and then come back for more.
This comes with a nod to digital music denizen Bob Lefsetz, who writes of the single “Fireflies:”
Where does the magic start?
Sure, there’s an ethereal intro, but it’s not riveting.
Then there’s that hooky groove, with the big bass beat, without sounding like what’s on Top Forty radio, which is only groove, sans melody. This guy with a thin voice is singing up and down the scale, this is not a Timbaland production.
Then there are the strings! Brian Wilson knew the power of strings, they’re not anathema to pop music, they’re not inherently schmaltzy, they add meaning, and texture.
Then the processed vocals when the song breaks down, kind of like Steve Marriott in “Itchycoo Park”, if Steve Marriott was a wimp.
Then, when the verse begins again, there’s more in the track. The calliope-like sound brings in joy, those strings add counterpoint. The line about the disco ball warms you up, then the whole track comes alive, like a denizen finally awaking from a slumber.
Then, back into that verse groove. You may tire of counting sheep, but now you’re fully enraptured, you’ve left the planet, you’re in music wonderland.
“I’d like to make myself believe”
That this track will be inspirational, that it will cause the business to do a 180, that melody will return, that music will eclipse marketing, that a whole row of infectious tracks will come driving down the pike.
But this guy did cut this wholly alone, in his basement. He didn’t go on “American Idol”, didn’t need Kara DioGuardi to polish it into oblivion. All he needed was tools, to follow his muse.
I’d like to make myself believe that music this good doesn’t need a major label to break through. That just putting it up online is enough to get you started. That appears to be the Owl City story, then again, who knows where truth lies.
But the truth is “Fireflies” is a fucking great track. The best on the Owl City album, but not the only good one.
Admittedly, some of the music on this album is an acquired taste, especially for an acoustic-oriented fogie like yours truly. But, lLike the music or not, there is no denying that Owl City is a story that could not have happened in any era other than the one we’re now entering, Music 3.0.