But Patrick, Ocean Eyes is the farthest thing from a derivative synthpop record! First off, it derives most of it’s sound from the indie electronica duo The Postal Service and their single album from 2003, “Give Up.” Not only is this album a masterpiece of indie music and the most influential album of the early 2000s, but it also gave Owl City the push he needed to create his vibrant synths sounds and overlapping melodies. But he perfected it. They thought it couldn’t be better and yet he did it. It also was influential itself, because “Give Up” is a hit but not nearly at the level Owl City got to. It left things to be desired, and Owl City delivered. Ocean Eyes is the perfect specimen of the internet age. Discovered on myspace, it blew up because the people wanted it, not some tone deaf record executive who wanted to pump out a formula. It is infectious because it wants to be, not because it has too. This music was made for enjoyment, not sales.
Every aspect of an Ocean Eyes song pops out at you like it’s the main part, but it’s only a piece of the whole. “Vanilla Twilight” is the secondary single that was able to bring Shaq on board for a cameo in the music video, but it also features Owl City at it’s best. The background synths in this track play a melody of their own, contrasted against the vocals, and I can hear it clearly in my head as I write this. It is perfectly whistleable and the counter melody was Owl City’s most powerful tool into making the songs infections but also able to be rooted deep into your mind.
We do need to cover “Hot Air Balloon” and “Sunburn,” because all though they are as thoughtfully crafted as any other track, they maybe were the most cringy songs that I actually liked (because we are not talking “Dental Care”). But they do have a very similar structure, and it works, and these songs could be played anywhere and people would dance. However, I believe the most underrated song to be “Butterfly Wings.” It follows a similar formula as many of the other songs, but it is more minimal. It relies on just a few synth lines that are tuned to perfection, and then opens up in the last verse to a grand instrumental breakdown at the end that is just beautiful.
We’re still on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this album. It has been in my life for most of my life, and was dropped right when I was discovering music and could find what I wanted to listen to. The Owl City concert was the first time I saw someone playing an electric guitar with a violin bow, which definitely shaped my music taste even to this day. Synths still rule my life, and the music of Owl City can instantly transport anyone to when artists were coming from the internet, and the future of music was very optimistic. Also, we haven’t even began to talk about Maybe I’m Dreaming, which might be even better than Ocean Eyes.
Now that we are old and sad, us Owl City fans have found eachother after all these years and can talk about Ocean Eyes yet again. This is truly a classic album, and we were lucky to have this in our ipods and mp3 players, as well as all the amazing artists from the internet who made their way into our earbuds. We love you Owl City.