It’s forgivable to anticipate Owl City’s Adam Young might change up his sound a bit on All Things Bright And Beautiful, just to get people off his back about being a Postal Service rip-off. But while the cool-kid camp is busy complaining about the blatant theft, Young is enjoying fame, fortune, and Taylor Swift’s attention. By sticking to what got him here, Young has pulled off a little trick: Instead of immediately bringing to mind The Postal Service on All Things Bright And Beautiful, now he just sounds like Owl City, i.e. a watered-down yet glossier version of the groundbreaking sounds that Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello conjured up nearly a decade ago.
That’s the other genius of Owl City: With no follow-up to Give Up in sight, Young is conveniently filling an electro-pop void. Unfortunately, All Things Bright And Beautiful lacks the quality tunes that made Owl City’s 2009 breakthrough Ocean Eyes such a guilty pleasure. Sure, there are still plenty of big, catchy keyboard exercises to keep the kids dancing, including “Deer In The Headlights” and “Galaxies,” which hit on a few of Young’s favorite topics. He admits on the former that “the female mystique takes my breath away,” while the latter was inspired by the Challenger disaster and pays its respects to God. Regular contributor Breanne Düren turns in another great performance during the duet “Honey And The Bee,” but for the most part, the songs are unable to transcend their cheesiness, turning Young’s formula from winning to wincing.