It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Empire Of The Sun’s debut, Walking On A Dream. Maybe it’s because of the long legs that the Australian duo’s debut album’s title track had, finding it’s way into many electronic DJ sets, with a multitude of bootlegs and remixes seeping out over the last five years. With such a long absence, it almost began to seem like we might never hear from the duo again; that perhaps their costumed theatrics were only good for one massive hit single and an accompanying cult album.
Thankfully, Empire Of The Sun has returned, and their new album, Ice On The Dune, was well worth the wait. It’s lead single, “Alive”, picks out all of the great elements of “Walking On A Dream” – without replicating it – and screams very loudly from the top of the hill, that Empire Of The Sun is back. Coupled with a huge remix by Zedd, the timing couldn’t be more right for their return.
But like another costumed duo who recently made their return to the electronic music scene after a long absence, Empire Of The Sun doesn’t attempt to pander to the big, EDM craziness that is sweeping the planet at the moment, and instead carries the torch lit by their debut LP. Electronic music it may be classified as, but this is truly a modern extension of 80′s synth pop, when everything is said and done.
Lead vocalist Luke Steele is found channelling The Cars’ Rick Ocasek in vocal tones on “Concert Pitch”, or even David Bowie on “Keep A Watch”, while the mellowed-out “I’ll Be Around” takes cues from some classic Police/Sting tunes. The title track, “Ice On The Dune” and later, “Celebrate” are both up-tempo, breezy songs that will make you want to stop what your doing, grab a friend, and take a spontaneous road trip; this is feel good music at it’s finest.
Each track stands on it’s own, maintaining their signature sound, but each is different enough to not fall into monotony. While it’s been a long time since we heard from Empire Of The Sun, Ice On The Dune proves that there’s no rushing quality, as they have released easily one of the best albums of the year.
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