Empire of the Sun – “Ice On The Dune”

Empire of the Sun - Ice on the Dune

Lux is the opening track from the album taking the listener to a place of enchantment. It sounds similar to the score of a modern fairy tale with our heroes, Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore (members of Empire of the Sun) venture off from a five year resting period to bring us this new album “Ice on the Dune.” This goes immediately to a synth pop danceable track entitled DNA which has the funky guitar that Daft Punk made popular earlier this year but also still keeping true to their original sound.  It is a bit of a reminder of how this music did not really exist upon the release of their first album, “Walking on a Dream” in 2008.

Empire of the Sun - Alive

Since then many artist have come out with the majority of them boasting about the use of the sounds that Empire of the Sun helped make popular during the time of their appearance on the scene. They stayed relevant up until 2011 in which a wave of their music hit the American and UK shores causing a festival tour during that year. The evolution of their sound can be heard in Alive, the first single by the Australian Duo which has a backing choir and lyrics which contain the basic anthem for any club hit, “Loving every minute because you make me feel so alive.”

Concert Pitch is heavy 80’s based synth with the vocal resembling a new use of Steele’s voice, which is deeper and reminds people of Eurhythmics meets Bowie only to have a modern chorus that gives the audience a glimpse into the prom scene of any John Hughes movie.

Ice On The Dune adds a bit more of a personality to the album showcasing it again as one of the tracks to differ itself from Walking on a Dream. Although there are a few similarities, the vocals are perfectly in tuned to the track which itself represents the essence of the band, which is a fun addicting beat.

As the album progresses the songs slow down a bit as is in the case of Awakening and I’ll Be Around, with Awakening playing a bit with the synth giving once again that early Daft Punk feel. I’ll Be Around is simply another love song that you would expect to sound as it does coming from this group. The lyrics though are like the majority of the other tracks, lacking any true meaning that is lost in the essences of the track and just burst out during certain parts in the song.

The pacing picks up again with Old Favours, which starts off with a snare drum and a synth that then escalate like modern day dance tracks to the actual beat of the entire song. This time the track is a bit more disco oriented having hazy lyrics but keeping a danceable beat that although not that original is great and brings together many components such as a small interlude and another build in the middle.

Celebrate brings down the snare drum and gives more of a “Justice” feel to the album. Although there are many critiques about auto-tune in the industry, in this track it sounds perfect through the verses keeping in track with the futuristic voyage that the band is trying to portray in the album. Once again like in Alive, they lyrics are a bit abstract and the only ones which can be thoroughly made out are that saying, “We celebrate our love.”

Luke Steele

Surround Sound is the only track that seems out of place in this album having vocals that range from deep to being too high in the same verse along with a chorus that is not that listener friendly in the sense that the vocals are hazy in a way which does not fit the song properly.

Disarm sounds like a track that has been heard before by artists like once again Daft Punk and Toro Y Moi, having a small twist in the vocals of course.

The album ends with the most melancholy track entitled Keep A Watch with is a reminder of once again an 80’s track which at first sounds like a standard love track but then loses it when the same phrase is repeated too many times, “I will keep on watching over you.” It is a bit of a reminder of Beach House and a bit of the new Cat Power.

Empire of the Sun

Overall the album keeps true to the duo and is a great album in itself. Although they have been touring for a number of years, this album does not live up to what was expected after the number of years the band had not released any new material. There was a higher expectation perhaps because of the high anticipation built up by the teasers of this album, or just due to the new sounds at the time of “Walking on a Dream.” With that being said, the track offers more than just the dance pop that was expected, and is a must have to those who enjoy the synth based bands. It combines good times and also has that smooth vibe at times that cannot be replicated by any other band.


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