Empire of the Sun's debut offering of experimental electro-pop and dance-rock is very well-timed, hitting the market just as the buzz surrounding MGMT's Oracular Spectacular has started to recede. Like those similarly colorful Americans, Empire of the Sun's two members embrace the glam lifestyle in spirit and song, wearing festive costumes in concert and festooning their music with oddball flourishes, androgynous lyrics, and a general sense of theatricality that borders on schizophrenia. Walking on a Dream runs an interesting gamut, sampling equally from hip-hop ("Swordfish Hotkiss Night"), arty synth pop ("Standing on the Shore"), and all the stops in between. With its programmed percussion and futuristic keyboards, the music sounds slightly more indebted to Pnau than the Sleepy Jackson; nevertheless, Luke Steele (the brains behind the latter band) takes center stage on the bulk of these songs, speak-singing in a childish tenor one minute and cooing like a lovestruck female the next. The aforementioned MGMT followed a similar path with their own debut -- a fact that simply cannot be emphasized enough, given the vast similarities between both records -- but while MGMT took cues from the likes of David Bowie and Prince, Empire of the Sun's fusion is more reminiscent of worldbeat and fantasy movie soundtracks. The outlandish cover art follows suit, as Steele and Nick Littlemore (dressed up in bizarre Star Wars-styled regalia) are flanked by a decorative elephant, a tiger, and what appears to be the skyline of Atlantis. Like the music it promotes, the cover art is purposely ludicrous, but listeners who have a palette for such whimsy should walk away happy.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey