Empire of the Sun have picked up exactly where they left off. Forget about your hipster tendencies towards the obscure and embrace the pomp and pop of Ice On The Dune – you’ll soon love it.

Australian releases don’t come much more hotly anticipated than Empire of the Sun’s follow up to worldwide success Walking on a Dream. Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore have made us wait nearly five years but it’s like they’ve never been away.

Ice On The Dune features more of the same hands-in-the-air synth-pop found on its predecessor – if anything, it is more firmly focused on the mainstream market and that is no bad thing. Like the live shows that accompany its release, the duo’s second album is unashamedly brash. The new songs didn’t immediately grab me when debuted at the Sydney Opera House last month but after repeated listens the album’s best tracks worm their way into your memory and press all the right buttons. By the time festival season comes around, they’ll be ripe for a mass sing-along.

Among them is ‘DNA’. Acoustic guitars and breathy vocals at the start tread the familiar terrain of ‘We Are The People’, before a kick drum appears and you realise this could be the band’s biggest radio hit yet. There’s more of the same on ‘Alive’, which uses Steele’s falsetto and a chorus of footy chant simplicity to great effect. The next two tracks, ‘Concert Pitch’ and ‘Ice On The Dune’, are formed from the same mould of catchy melodies and flawless production so that by the time a lull comes about in the middle of the album it doesn’t matter because you’re already hooked.

4/5 stars


Ice On The Dune is out now through EMI.

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