Related Articles: Music, All

Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream

Released on Astralwerks, 4/21/09

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

With Walking on a Dream, the debut album by the Australian band Empire of the Sun, comes an intriguing venture into outer space disco rock. With indie-rock cooing over psychedelic-electro dance rhythms, the band’s lavish style with overindulgent makeup and glitter seems, for a lack of a better word, fitting. Unfortunately, the duo comprised of vocalist Luke Steele, formerly of The Sleepy Jackson, and dance producer extraordinaire Nick Littlemore, of Pnau, are lost in a world they’ve created.

The best song, and the first single, “Walking on a Dream", is a bubbling dance hit with pulsating rhythm that drives Steele’s achy vocals. The single sounds like an 80s ballad saturated in easily digestible lyrics like “thought I’d never see / the love you found in me.” The entire album sounds like Daft Punk circa "Aerodynamic" grounded in a contemporary throwback to disco-rock characteristic of Phoenix or at best MGMT.

The band seems promising yet underneath the makeup is a group finding chemistry. While their song “Half Mast” grooves smoothly with its love crying hook “Oh, oh / Honey I need you”, the song ends with a piano solo that’s comparable to local pub’s 80s cover band. “Swordfish Hot Kiss Nite", bumps like a club track with a rolling funk, yet it sounds cheesy and overdone by repeating hooks over pumping sirens. While “Walking on a Dream” is playlist worthy, the other tracks either lack catchy hooks, or sound like daydreamy beats.

The talented duo has created a roller skating disco party with a smattering of psychedelic kinks and emotional undertone. Both artists are clearly talented, but on most tracks they don’t complement each other. Walking on a Dream is more a state of limbo, with an unsatisfying yearning for more substance.