The duo that makes of EMPIRE OF THE SUN, Luke Stele and Nick Littlemore, found their way to the global stage from their artistry in production and “conscious” remixing.  The debut album came at a time when their was a growing “electro hippie”: using the world of electronic production along the likes of MGMT and like-minded rave culture to create an experience.  In the unspooling of WALKING ON A DREAM, the result was multi-platinum success as a contrast to the burgeoning pop scene of Gagas and Rhinannas to a dance beat. During that same period  The difference EMPIRE delivered was that their was a free flow concept of global culture with the emotion of an epic dancefloor; one that was capable of escaping and dreaming to another place.

Fast forward to five years later and the dup delivers ICE ON THE DUNE.  An album that’s title alone says it won’t be what you expect.  Sadly that is not the case as most of the album thumps along to the same BPM, working to deliver what the global consumer expects from its “edgy” mainstream act.  The result offers carbon copy, almost faithful throwback to songs from the first album, like the first single ALIVE.

Where the album shines is when the team works to give something a little off-kilter.  The mid-tempo shuffler AWAKENING gleans what could have been with a little more forethought to trajectory with its throbbing charge of claiming the listener of the song as “my life” is duo-tined falsetto and raucous, gritty bass-tined synth.  OLD FLAVOURS smartly gives a nod to registers of FLEETWOOD MAC chords of RUMOURS era while thumping along to their distinctive groove.  The dance-track prevelance of this album will definitely appeal to the mass market but it feels somewhat forced as when the “breakdown” of the album happens with final track of the long player,  KEEP A WATCH, marks its arrival, you almost snore over to the skip button to start anew from the beginning.  If more of the album was conceptualized with that “conscious” production the duo aims to deliver in the vein of Jamiroquai-meets-fullon-electro, the result could be more like SURROUND SOUND; a track that echoes a caravan journey that EMPIRE OF THE SUN effortlessly took us on with the debut release.

Here’s to hoping that journey isn’t at a creative end and the sun keeps on shining on this prolific talent.

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Drew Waller
Drew Waller