Two Vines Empire of the Sun EMI Australian electronica duo Empire of the Sun emerged in 2008 as a fascinating pair of otherworldly creatures. Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore shrouded themselves in flowing silk robes and extravagant headdresses, and had their faces painted with vibrant, glittery makeup. It’s an eye-popping aesthetic that has become synonymous with the band, along with its retro-yet-futuristic brand of uncomplicated synth-pop. The pair first burst on to our airwaves with its hit debut album Walking on a Dream (2008) and the accompanying titular single. Eight years on comes its third studio album, Two Vines. Co-produced by Jonathan Sloan and Peter Mayes (Sia, The Killers), the album features small yet noteworthy contributions from A-list musicians including Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac, Wendy Melvoin from Prince’s band Revolution, and two former David Bowie collaborators, Henry Hey and Tim Lefebvre. Littlemore says Two Vines was inspired by the image of “a modern city overtaken by jungle”, an environmental concept that sadly rarely surfaces in either the lyrical or musical content. The album is relatively mellow. It’s not surprising to learn the album was partly recorded in Hawaii. Opener Before bursts with an infectious energy that sets the album up well, but things seldom improve beyond that. Except for single High and Low, which includes spirited hooks and spacious synths, the songs largely fizzle amid repetitive chordal structures and simplistic lyrics. There’s No Need features off-putting levels of vocal auto-tune, and tracks To Her Door and Digital Life are dreamy yet dull. Two Vines is only a slight improvement on the uninspired Ice on the Dune (2013). Empire of the Sun seems stagnant.