Cinematic is the sixth studio album from Minnesota-born electronic pop artist and singer-songwriter Adam Young aka Owl City. I do have to say that right off the bat, I love the concept behind this album. Young has crafted a 15 track album around the important events in his life and presented it in the format of a 1980’s styled Steven Spielberg-esque movie poster.
He gradually released several “reels” which each contained three tracks from the album until it’s official release in June 2018. In a similar fashion, he released several music video featuring an actor looking like a younger version of himself with an early love interest which all flow continuously from first single “All My Friends” to third single “New York City”.
In terms of Young’s vision behind this album, this is miles better than his previous release, 2015’s Mobile Orchestra which was an incoherent mess with very little direction and a terrible mainstream pop sound. At the very least, Cinematic by contrast is very coherent in both scope and musical direction.
The lyrical material touches on significant events in Young’s childhood, adolescence and early adulthood from getting his first recording contract (Fiji Water), an ode to his father (Not All Heroes Wear Capes), moving houses/states and his childbirth (The 5th of July), the importance of friendship (All My Friends), finding his first home (House Wren), dealing with fear and loneliness (Always), fond memories from high school (New York City), his love of dreaming and fantasy (Lucid Dream).
Musically there is also a rich diversity of styles happening here from country twangs and sing-a-long anthems (All My Friends), delicately soft piano ballads (Always, Be Brave), gorgeous guitar strums (Not All Heroes Wear Capes), uplifting string arrangements (Montana), upbeat synth-pop and electronica (Lucid Dream, Cloud Nine).
Is Adam Young really reinventing the wheel with this album? Obviously not. Is it self-indulgent, sometimes sickly sweet and a little too long? Sure. Are the lyrics very on the nose at times? Uh yeah! But even with these criticisms, this is a huge return to form overall after the trainwreck that was Mobile Orchestra.
If you weren’t an Owl City fan before, this album isn’t likely to convert you much at all. But I feel like it bring all those old-school Owl City fans back out again. If you liked his earlier material such as Maybe I’m Dreaming or Ocean Eyes, you’ll most likely enjoy this album. It’s very positive and it shows a very personal and honest side to Adam Young that we haven’t seen before now. 8/10