Cinematic by Owl City

On October 29th, 2017, Adam Young of Owl City posted a hype-inducing message to his Instagram feed. The post included a smug-looking Kronk from “The Emperor’s New Groove,” followed by a quote that read, “When owl city is about to make an official announcement ….” A day later, Owl City announced its album would be dropping in June 2018! It’s title: “Cinematic,” because in Adam Young’s words, “Life is like a movie.” I began counting down the weeks until June 1, and “Cinematic” was definitely worth the wait.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t overly impressed with Owl City’s last album, “Mobile Orchestra.” The album lacked a central focus, but thankfully, the same cannot be said about “Cinematic.” Its theme is crystal clear; Adam Young based “Cinematic” completely on his own life. Each song has some sort of significance to Young, whether it covers a life-changing event or a simple lesson. It is so refreshing to see an album like this, especially from an artist like Owl City. Prior to “Cinematic, “most of Owl City’s songs were very whimsical, almost dreamlike, and contained lyrics that were nonsensical and silly. Don’t get me wrong, I love this trademark aspect of Owl City. However, it was also nice to see Young take a risk and experiment with something different. In my opinion, it paid off. The songs on this album are well-written, and you can feel the passion and emotion Young put into them.

“Cinematic” is a “feel-good” album despite its more serious nature. In many cases, creative works inspired by a person’s life tend to be somber and full of grueling challenges, but if “Cinematic” truly is a memoir Young’s life, it seems like he’s had a pretty good one! Every song on the album has an uplifting or heartwarming message, and the focus
appears to be on the positive details of Young’s life – not the negative ones. From songs about overcoming life’s hurdles, to taking special trips with friends, to precious family memories, “Cinematic” highlights some of the greatest experiences Adam Young has gone through.

There is not a single song on “Cinematic” that I dislike. My least favorite is probably “Be Brave” because I’m not a fan of the dramatic instrumentals, but I still appreciate the sweet story of Young meeting his girlfriend for the first time. My personal favorite is the first track, “Fiji Water.” Young sings about staying true to himself as he travels to New York to sign Owl City to a record label. I love the song’s message and its bouncy feel; it’s a great track to dance to. My other favorites include the western-sounding “Montana” (the bold background track and descriptive lyrics make me feel as though I’m really there), the title track “Cinematic” (which has some clever Star Wars references), and the just plain silly “House Wren” (the title says it all).

Overall, “Cinematic” is a triumph for Owl City. It takes on a new challenge while keeping the same elements that make Owl City unique. It’s one of the best albums that Owl City has released; a celebration of what the project has become in the last ten years. I sincerely hope that Adam Young continues to release music that captures his heart and soul. To commemorate the album’s release, Owl City is touring this fall. As much as I’d love to see Adam Young perform in person, I sadly do not have the opportunity. I’ll just have to listen to “Winners Don’t Quit” for the 80th time.

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