Adam Young’s boyish vocals make him sound like a baby Ben Gibbard, and if Owl City is his Postal Service, then Sky Sailing is his Death Cab for Cutie. Young wrote and recorded An Airplane Carried Me to Bed’s songs in 2006, while he was still spending his days as a metalworker and living with his parents, and about a year before he crafted the sound that eventually resulted in the hit single “Fireflies.” Instead of Owl City’s bright, bleepy synth-pop backed by faint acoustic strumming, this album puts the guitar front and center, with keyboards occasionally coming along for the ride. The sound is different enough from the Owl City songs to warrant the Sky Sailing name, but Young’s basic approach remains the same not just from project to project, but from song to song. His voice and melodies are sweeter than sweet, and his muse remains love, whether it’s new, lost, unrequited or far, far away. Owl City’s winsomeness twinkles in songs like “Brielle” and “Steady As She Goes,” although their acoustic backdrops might sound a touch simpler and more genuine than the electronics of Young’s main project. Most of An Airplane Carried Me to Bed drifts by in a blur of wispy guitars and yearning sighs, with mentions of Audrey Hepburn and “wintergreen daydreams” popping out now and then. There aren’t many peaks and valleys here, although “Tennis Elbow” shows hints of Owl City, “Take Me Somewhere Nice” blossoms from playful electric pianos to accordions on its choruses, and “A Little Opera Goes a Long Way” shows off Young’s guitar solo skills. Young has a distinct vision for his music no matter what name he releases it under, and Owl City fans will find a lot to like about Sky Sailing.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares