Ice On The Dune by Empire Of The Sun

Ice On The Dune by Empire Of The Sun


Ten years ago we’d have laughed off the idea of two guys dressed in mythical costumes launching a revival of retro electropop. Yet that is exactly what we got with 2008’s Walking On A Dream, a somewhat rushed collaborative side project that was supposed to formalize the longstanding friendship between Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. It was an unexpected global phenomenon that eclipsed both Sleepy Jackson and Pnau in the popularity stakes, and so a second attempt was virtually guaranteed.


This time the Australian duo approach things much more seriously, even though the flamboyant imagery and wildly concocted backstory are as ubiquitous as ever. Filled with propulsive synths and please-all sentiments, the result is a set of sleeker, shinier tunes that’s much more consistent and immediate than its predecessor.


#1. Lux 1:25
#2. DNA 3:54
#3. Alive 3:24
#4. Concert Pitch 3:40
#5. Ice On The Dune 3:25
#6. Awakening 3:45
#7. I’ll Be Around 4:30
#8. Old Flavours 3:54
#9. Celebrate 3:19
#10. Surround Sound 3:17
#11. Disarm 3:51
#12. Keep A Watch 4:28


Luke Steele: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Composition, Lyrics
Nick Littlemore: Additional Vocals, Bass, Keyboard, Synth, Instrumentation


Peter Mayes
Empire Of The Sun


14th June, 2013




Lux is an interesting opener, seeing as it would be more at home chereographing some Eastern fortuneteller of questionable reputation, or a cheap magician. Clearly meant to keep the listener guessing before the enormous payoff (DNA), which roars in with sunny hooks and feel-good choruses.


Promotional single Alive is a bit more substantial and complex enough to weather repeated listens. Though the sampled vocals and an ethereal melange of acoustic guitar and atmospherics threatens to launch this impressive track into underwhelming territory, the catchy chorus ultimately wins you over. Then there’s some nostalgic mellow pop with I’ll Be Around, the lone downtempo cut on offer, followed by the club banger Old Flavours, which nails the new Daft Punk formula. It leaves you wondering about the secret behind so much addictive goodness.


Steele and Littlemore have implemented a number of subtle modifications to their sonic palette. Producer/guitarist Peter Mayes (and the other half of Pnau) takes a back-seat approach, allowing a more seamless and distinct flavor to emerge instead of the mashup instrumentation that characterized tracks like Standing On The Shore in the previous outing. You can just about discern the gentle muted guitar lines thrumming away on Concert Pitch for example, allowing the rave-y keyboards to take charge of the track.


And what delicate textures these keyboards possess! The title track employs a very contemporary, futuristic-leaning aesthetic that’s closer to chillwave than New Wave, and that’s why the vaguely familiar melody is bubbling with fresh energy. No more cheesy and bloated tones from the 80s, although the wimpy quota (Keep A Watch) hasn’t been completely eliminated either.


Most gratifyingly, there’s a complete absence of those horrible experimental fillers that separated the radio material on Walking On A Dream. This isn’t to say Ice On The Dune lacks breadth; only that the change-of-pace tracks are much more fleshed out. With relentless percussion and a hint of saxophones, Surround Sound pulls off the weird-but-in-a-good-way trick remarkably well, while Disarm turns to indie pop/rock of the Modest Mouse variety.





Responses (5)

  1. A brilliant album that is on constant rotation in my car

    Lyric from Concert Pitch (simple and beautiful):
    I wanna go
    I just wanna ride with you
    'Cause then I know I'll be by your side
    With you tonight

    I believe in the world that I created
    I did it for you
    I wish to be your love and save you
    I tried to turn back the time
    I've got to reach against the ages
    And now I realise
    You were the one I always run to
    O, darling


    I…I'd rather think it's time we go
    Oh, I'll let it go

    I don't know myself
    When you are not around
    I won't realise
    All I got until it's gone
    Just let the fire, fire burn
    O, darling

  2. Luv this album didn't think top first one brilliant creation bless u guys spiritual in a sense!

  3. I love both albums and Sleepy Jackson. Emperor Luke is brilliant and a fabulous musician!!! I listen to him every day. His fabulous style makes me smile. Rock on Luke Steele you are the best!!!

  4. Alex Mello says:

    I love Empireeeeee o_Ó Todo Brasil ligado em vocês…voando ao infinito!!!!!!!!

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