Empire of the Sun – Two Vines Review 

If the Pet Shop Boys burst onto the scene now, I feel like they’d be very reminiscent of Empire of the Sun. From the fine-tuned synths to the soft, ethereal vocals, Empire of the Sun capture the slightly-camp atmosphere of the eighties. Surging to success in 2008 with debut Walking on a Dream, the electronic duo – adorned head-to-toe in their space gear (including headdresses that look like weapons) – presented their award-winning bid of eighties pop renaissance, which seemed to wilt in follow-up LP Ice on the Dune. Now the headdresses have returned, alongside Two Vines: a conjuring of retro references and Eurovision-worthy cheesiness.

The pretext of the album is an urban city being invaded by jungle, springing to mind images of mother nature beating down the businesses and leaving an aura of serenity in her wake. And that’s kind of what this album feels like. You may as well be listening to the album whilst floating on a cloud as the tender pop of To Her Door or There’s No Need waltz across the tracklist. There are also more industrial elements reflective of the eighties euphoria EOTS are famous for, as smiling harmonies blare alongside a fist-pumping-inducing chorus on anthemic High or Low particularly. All of it recalls some sort of happy memory, no matter your age; the tracks embody the ecstasy of freedom. The same way they run wild with their tracks on occasion – such as the excessive synths of ZZZ that doesn’t really sit right with the rest of the album – we mirror that same liberty.

What I don’t like about it, however, is its desperation. Especially in opener Before and Ride, there’s echoes of comeback bands trying to remain relevant, like the Scissor Sisters’ Only the Horses. On Ride, this is noticeably due to the lyrics, that are less mature in comparison to the others that swim across the tracks. Ride sounds like a cheerleader chant with its repetition of “Together we can.” Repetition is present throughout the album: the synth stronghold never dies. Before long, each song seems to bleed into the next, with its high-flying electro choruses, and verses acting as a helping hand aiding the build-up. Clever, but also a bit monotone.

So I don’t quite know how I feel about this album. Much like we’d expect, it’s often goofy, but serious when it’s needs to be. But at the same time it gets a little dull. Blissfully reflective. Tediously bland.

Empire of the Sun – Two Vines: 6/10

By Eleanor Chivers

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