Empire of the Sun's Ice on the Dune
Let’s get the Daft Punk comparisons out of the way: This Australian dance duo is also big on high concepts, elaborate headgear and global advance buzz. Ice on the Dune, its second album, comes hyped with Spielberg-caliber trailers and Avatar-esque music videos. But where the Daft boys lean toward collaborations and prog rock, Empire is a self-contained unit that rarely strays from a platinum formula: sugary pop epics powered by the nasally, multi-tracked falsetto of frontman/mastermind Luke Steele. That combo can feel a tad too chilly over the course of a whole album, but Ice is just like 2008’s Walking On a Dream in the sense that it packs at least three gold-star earworms: “Alive,” this year’s other summer single; the glistening “I’ll Be Around” and a disco shuffle aptly titled “Surround Sound.” When this band has enough for a greatest-hits comp, it will be wonderful.