Empire of the Sun’s 2008 debut Walking On A Dream was an electro-pop masterpiece that ranked very high on most critics’ year end best lists and was almost universally loved. I read several music magazines — not to mention websites — and I don’t recall reading a single negative review. Now the Australian duo of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore (of Pnau) are back with a glossy new single.
“Alive” is dazzling from the moment it begins with layers and layers of sunshiny synth. Soon a thick, mid-tempo beat kicks in and the singing begins. During the verses, lead vocalist Steele and co-lead vocalist Littlemore sing in a much higher range than usual and with a substantial amount of echo on their voices, resulting in something truly beautiful and radiant that meshes with the synth magically. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s some euphoric chanting by children, making the colorful song truly kaleidoscopic. The guys sing the chorus in a more straight-forward manner, sounding just as they did on their debut, but it’s no less infectious.
“Hello to my people, say hello to my future,” they sing during the final third of the song and it’s reminiscent of Justice, the song “D.A.N.C.E.” in particular. This might trouble some listeners, but it doesn’t bother me at all. This song is perfect, regardless of who it may or may not be inspired by. (And, personally, I love Justice and can’t think of a more appropriate act for them to find inspiration from.)
Welcome back, fellas.