Owl City – Fireflies

Release Date 08/01/2010
By Chris Gilliver

I thought I’d better review this, because I’ve just heard that some kid called Owl City has hit the number one spot by imitating a boy drowning with a vocoder rammed down his throat. Now I don’t really give a shit about what’s at number 1, but at the same time I’m supposed to be a journalist and if something big is happening I’m duty bound to cover it non?

Maybe, maybe not, but when the number one is also a blatant rip off of the Postal Service sound, I have to speak up.

Surely, SURELY the reason this has hit zeitgeist success is because people are getting confused between Adam Young, the scrawny little geek behind the feathery Owl City Mask, and Ben Gibbard the genius behind The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie.

The real difference between the two is that Owl City is obviously playing for the big bucks and the big boys. It’s all in those little chips, loops and bleep, and in the big build up to the latter choruses. Where Young Plays for top of the charts drama, Gibbard plays for subtlety, and lyrically where Young talks about fireflies teaching him to dance, an image that is attractive but ultimately meaningless and disgustingly saccharine, Gibbard talks about the peculiarities of everyday relationships and situations and pulls out something rather more insightful. Here are some examples:

Owl City:

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It’s hard to say that I’d
Rather stay awake when I’m asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.

The Postal Service:

I wanted to walk through the empty streets
And feel something constant under my feet,
But all the news reports recommended that
I stay indoors
Because the air outside will make our cells
Divide at an alarming rate until our shells
Simply cannot hold all our insides in,
And that’s when we’ll explode
(and it won’t be a pretty sight)


You see? By comparison Owl City is like a child with his eyes shut, and his hands over his ears crying, “Nanananana”. Gibbard may not like what he hears and sees, but like any good writer he does not turn away.

Ultimately Adam Young is a rip-off merchant, albeit a very good one, whose music is a chart friendly, watered-down reworking of The Postal Service’s. If you like Owl City, you’ll love Postal Service, but make no mistake about which act takes priority.   

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