The futuristic headpieces and cheesy, over-the-top facepaints that line the covers of Empire of the Sun’s latest are not necessarily representative of the music they wrap. The Bowie-esque glam pop image that they've crafted suggests that the duo may be out to reinvent music, or at least come with a message. This is far from the truth, because what Empire of the Sun really do is make uplifting, catchy summer pop music that appeals to the masses - and they do it better than anybody else.
Once the swaying build of album intro ‘Lux’ is out of the way, taking its false sense of grandeur with it, Ice on the Dune relentlessly skips from one infectious beat to the next. Lead single ‘Alive’ and album highlight ‘DNA’ are reminiscent of the band’s ‘Walking on a Dream’. Huge, catchy choruses are coupled with bouncing synths to create summer anthems that deserve endless radio airplay until it’s time to roll out Jingle Bells.
The album then powers its way through another nine songs, each with the potential to fill the airwaves as a future single. Although not generic, each is rife with pop clichés; the duo scream their own name on ‘Awakening’ for instance. It remains to be seen what the talented pair, given their previous experience, would be capable of producing if they left a bit more time for experimentation. It can always be a bit tiring to listen to 12 possible singles in a row and in its 42 minute running time, there's no slow track - nothing a bit different - and no chance for a break, which is perhaps the album's biggest downfall.
It’s clear that they’re out to conquer the international audience, seeking mainstream acceptance outside of Australia and you've got to hand it to them; just two albums in and they’re already well on their way to completing their mission. This sophomore LP is packed with absolute joy, which will see you past the house tinted beats of the Daft Punk-esque ‘Celebrate’ and ‘Surround Sound’, past ‘Disarm’ - the musical form of the sun - past the David Bowie cries that line album closer ‘Keep a Watch’ and back to the beginning again.
It may not be clever, it may not be life changing and it may not even be a huge step forward from the band’s debut. What it is, is this year’s must have summer soundtrack. Straight up pop doesn't get more enjoyable than this.
'Ice on the Dune' is available to download now. You can find it on ShopTo here.