During the three years between Midsummer Station and Mobile Orchestra, Owl City's Adam Young kept busy contributing songs to film soundtracks and releasing the Ultraviolet EP. However, Young's fifth album suggests that he paid attention to the big trends in pop music that surfaced since his last full-length. Mobile Orchestra lives up to its name, covering more musical ground than any of Owl City's previous work. Some of its forays are more expected than others: Young's incorporation of EDM beats and breakdowns on songs like "Can't Live Without You" is savvy, especially when he teams up with some of the style's hitmakers. "Verge" updates Owl City's fizzy anthems with a cameo by Aloe Blacc, whose Avicii collaboration "Wake Me Up" was a huge hit, while "Thunderstruck" features U.K. trance vocalist Sarah Russell. On the other hand, the Jake Owen duet "Back Home" is a complete surprise, partly because of how successfully it blends the shuffling rhythms of 2010s country into Owl City's signature sound. Indeed, Young's trademark gleaming production and boyish vocals unite Mobile Orchestra's eclectic music and emotions, which are nearly as wide-ranging. The album features two of his most overtly Christian songs, "My Everything" and "You're Not Alone," both of which make the most of Owl City's feel-good vibes. Elsewhere, Young gets more personal on the confessional "I Found Love" and the quirky "Unbelievable," a bit of millennial nostalgia featuring '90s pop icons Hanson. Young still doesn't do darkness as well as light -- his uplifting style doesn't give quite enough weight to "This Isn't the End"'s tale of healing and redemption -- but Mobile Orchestra shows a willingness to grow and change that makes it the most complete portrait of Owl City's music yet.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares