Empire of the Sun – Two Vines (Album Review)

The fall of 2008 was euphoric. Barrack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States.

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We worked so passionately towards brushing away the persistent remnants of the racial barriers in the world’s most powerful nation, and we celebrated.

We celebrated the abandonment of a historically foolish Republican president—and we relished in a symbolic moment of evolution from a nation that was previously tainted with a burdened racial history.

The strikingly significant moment rejuvenated the entire population. There was an innate sense of exhilaration and ecstasy that was contiguous—it felt like we were walking into a dream that seemed previously unmanageable.

Fittingly enough—the fall of 2008 also brought us Empire of the Sun’s debut album, Walking On A Dream.

The Australian duo comprised of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore led an insurgence towards serenity with their melodic direction. The band explored a universe of synesthetic possibilities and created a rhythmic vessel that took us all for joyful trip.

Call it glossy, retro, dreamy, futuristic, weird, psychedelic, call it whatever you like—but it was different.

It was an unusual album that came out at an unusual time in history.

Somehow these sensations of unfamiliarity brought with them an inspired society that embraced a progressive uprising filled with prosperity and acceptance.

Contrastingly— today, there’s an overcast of negativity and bleakness atop the same society that was enthusiastically celebrating eight short years ago.

The year 2016 was headlined by the deaths of David Bowie and Prince.

We lost the two men that intricately designed the approach of successful dissimilarity that Empire of the Sun embodied so well.

And now, the historic political symbol of progression we cherished that autumn season eight years ago, steps aside in favor of the ultimate symbol of ineptitude and regression. Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America—and now, we have nothing to celebrate.

Unfittingly enough—the fall of 2016 brings us Empire of the Sun’s third studio album, Two Vines.

Call it fate or call it a lucky coincidence, but at time where the world needed them the most—Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore step up with another album filled with shining synths, glistening melodies, infectious instrumentals, and the immaculately optimistic approach to musical composition we’ve all come to know and love.

Two Vines once again offers us passage onto the same rhythmic vessel that the duo fashioned eight years ago, and promptly hurls us down the interplanetary boulevard of nostalgic prosperity.

Coincidently (or fatefully) enough, the record features Wendy Melvoin from Prince’s band, and Henry Hey and Tim Lefebvre—two former David Bowie collaborators.

The lead single “High and Low” is a contagiously inviting dance ballad that distantly mirrors previous hits “Alive” and “Walking on a Dream.”

On the heels of the election results, the crown jewel of the album “There’s No Need” offers us a significant and unintentional message of unity with its opening lyrics: “there’s no need to choose sides/we are on the same team.”

Near the end of the title track “Two Vines” the duo croons, “All the universe is humming with me.” It clear that Empire of the Sun knows that (once again) they’ve wittily set themselves apart from the rest—apart in a rhythmic world of interconnectedness.

Without a doubt, it’s been a tough week for our world’s hope and imagination.

A small (but significant) part of the healing process comes from recapturing the moments that inspired us the most—and that’s exactly what Empire of the Sun offers us with the release of Two Vines. 

The sky is still dimly lit and the horizon looks increasingly ominous—but at least we have this umbrella that encompasses us with the rhythmic possibilities of tomorrow.

– husson z

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