Empire of the Sun’s second album Ice on the Dune comes as resounding validation of anyone who thought Luke Steele’s erstwhile The Sleepy Jackson project was better.
Ice on the Dune announces itself grandly on “Lux” but immediately sags into an album’s worth of indistinct modern synth-pop, with ‘go to’ dancefloor synths and relentlessly safe tonality expunging any hint of character.
There are flashes of ingenuity amidst the perfunctory: the glimmering electronic twinkliness of the title track, for example, or the Flaming Lips-y harmony breakdown in “I’ll Be Around”.
Despite sounding a bit like a Tina Turner backing track, “I’ll Be Around” is actually one of the better tracks here, probably alongside the well overdue drama of “Old Flavours”.
More typical though is “Disarm”, which seems to draw influence from Pretty Much Any French DJ from the ’90s. Mostly, the dial is set to ’80s.
Were the ’80s so good that we need every second band to be a walking, talking homage to them? Didn’t we get enough ’80s from the decade itself?
Ice on the Dune is out now on EMI Records.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!