Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore of Pnau have joined forces to become electropop duo Empire of the Sun. Walking On A Dream, their debut, is an album that emulates '70s and '80s excess, from its frankly ludicrous cover to its overlong songs - not to mention the fact that Steele and Littlemore have jetted off to China and Mexico to make videos for the record's first two singles.
This lack of economy permeates the music itself, which lumbers one step shy of Daft Punk to land as dull, neutered MOR. Tacky drum beats and irritatingly nasal vocals compound the sense that this album is one that, while shooting for the heavens, utterly fails to transcend by dint of its clunky long-windedness. Even a misguided foray into hip-hop (Swordfish Hotkiss Night) can't raise this record out of catatonia.
Empire of the Sun came fourth in the BBC's Sound of 2009 poll, voted on by a panel of critics; this critic is telling you that if you don't enjoy bloated, sluggish prog masquerading as electro, 2009 might be a good year to emigrate.[Gillian Watson]