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Walking on a Dream

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Title: Walking on a Dream  
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Subject: Supergroup (music), Pnau, Nick Littlemore, The Sleepy Jackson, ARIA Music Awards, Van She, Like a Version, Luke Steele (musician), Empire of the Sun (band), Now: The Hits of Summer 2009
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Walking on a Dream

For the title song of the album, see Walking on a Dream (song).
Walking on a Dream
Empire of the Sun
Released 3 October 2008 (2008-10-03)
Recorded 2007; Soundworks Music Studio,
Linear Recording
(Sydney, Australia)
Genre Synthpop, electronic rock, new wave
Length 43:34
Label Capitol
Producer Empire of the Sun, Peter Mayes, Donnie Sloan
Empire of the Sun chronology

Walking on a Dream
Ice on the Dune
Singles from Walking on a Dream
  1. "Walking on a Dream"
    Released: 30 August 2008 (2008-08-30)
  2. "We Are the People"
    Released: 20 September 2008 (2008-09-20)
  3. "Standing on the Shore"
    Released: 12 June 2009 (2009-06-12)
  4. "Without You (New Version)"
    Released: 25 September 2009 (2009-09-25)
  5. "Half Mast (Slight Return)"
    Released: 15 January 2010 (2010-01-15)

Walking on a Dream is the debut studio album by Australian electronic music duo Empire of the Sun, released on 3 October 2008 by Capitol Records. The album was produced by band members Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, along with Peter Mayes and Donnie Sloan.

Walking on a Dream received eleven nominations at the ARIA Music Awards of 2009, winning seven, including Album of the Year. A special edition of the album, containing a bonus disc of remixes, B-sides, and unreleased tracks, was released on 20 November 2009.

Background and release

The album was recorded and mixed by Peter Mayes at Soundworks Music Studio in Sydney at various times throughout 2007, with additional recording by Chris Vallejo at Linear Recording, also in Sydney.[1] According to EMI Music Australia's website, the painting of Steele and Littlemore that comprises the album artwork was based on the iconic film posters for Indiana Jones and Star Wars.[2]

Walking on a Dream debuted at number eight on the Australian Albums Chart and at number twenty-one on the UK Albums Chart.[3][4] The album has been certified double platinum in Australia and gold in the United Kingdom.[5][6]

The album's lead single, "Walking on a Dream", was released on 30 August 2008.[7] The video features Steele and Littlemore, wearing faux-oriental costumes and makeup inspired by Peking Opera, on location along the Bund in Shanghai, China on 21–27 July 2008, just prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics.[8][1]

The second single was "We Are the People", which was released on 20 September 2008.[9] The video for the song was shot in Mexico, and used the ancient Mexican festival Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) as its inspiration. Locations included the gardens of Sir Edward James at Las Pozas, Monterrey and García.[10]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 61/100[11]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[12]
Blender 3/5 stars[13]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[14]
The Independent 4/5 stars[15]
musicOMH 3/5 stars[16]
NME 8/10[17]
The Observer 3/5 stars[18]
Pitchfork Media 6.4/10[19]
PopMatters 5/10[20]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[21]

Walking on a Dream received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 61, based on 19 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[11] Sophie Bruce of BBC Music raved that "[the duo's] talent is undoubtable and this album sounds like an instant classic", noting that "[t]his is the sound of the Noughties—electro enough without being harsh, interesting without being over-cool, quirky without being weird."[22] Andrew Leahey of Allmusic called the album "eclectic" and wrote that the duo "find common ground between their stylistically disparate backgrounds, producing a number of songs filled with Steele's quirky pop melodies and Littlemore's hip dance sensibilities."[12] Blender's Tyler Gray stated that "[a]coustic guitar strummed in time with dance beats, tinny vocals and tons of slap-back reverb—it's like some magical pop formula concocted long ago by aboriginal Australian shamen and parceled out ever since to INXS, Midnight Oil, Outback Steakhouse jingle makers and now this turquoise-loving duo."[13] Martin Robinson of the NME heavily compared Empire of the Sun to MGMT, stating that "[t]he ludicrousness of 'We Are The People' and 'Walking On A Dream' doesn't stop them from being sensational. Both have sunshiny choruses which hook into your perineum and drag you upwards, with 'Walking On A Dream''s mantra of 'We are always running for the thrill of it, thrill of it' marking it as their 'Time To Pretend'."[17] Michael Cragg of musicOMH, however, felt that the album "offers little in the way of musical experimentation" and that "[m]ost of it sounds like a strange amalgam of Fleetwood Mac and MGMT, as if the latter had been transposed from the slightly grubby streets of Brooklyn to the beaches of Australia."[16]

Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone wrote that the duo "have lots of straightforward pop chops, but they prefer to get wonky with cheesetastic, Eighties-flavored keyboards and nonsense rhymes like 'Hotdog belt donut melt/Magpie knelt by itself'", adding that the album "sounds like Europop on Special K."[21] In a review for The Guardian, Dorian Lynskey commented, "At various points, Walking On a Dream resembles Prince, Mercury Rev, Angelo Badalamenti, Funkadelic and the Muppets, none of them at their best."[14] Andy Gill of The Independent opined that the songs "Walking on a Dream" and "We Are the People" "rather resemble The Beloved or Air, sharing with those duos the impression that the music just seems to have settled, like snow, around the melody."[15] The Observer critic Alex Denney opined that "the record settles upon a cooler hue, favouring minor-key shuffles that, at their best, sound like prime Bangles cuts, but tend towards pedestrian 1980s pop hackery at their worst."[18] Tyler Fisher of PopMatters referred to the music as a "mix of swirling analog synth, funky guitar, and basic drum beats all placed in a world of reverb that sounds like an ethereal, distant realm of sound."[20] Jason Treuen of Rolling Stone Australia described the album as "gorgeously plaintive electro-pop", commenting that "there's no denying Littlemore and Steele have touched on something beautiful and otherworldly here", but also noting that "the gold is harder to find in the record's hazy second half".[23] Pitchfork Media's Mike Orme expressed that "although Empire tries mightily, they collapse underneath too many ideas before the record is even half over."[19] Gillian Watson of The Skinny expressed that the album "emulates '70s and '80s excess" and that "[t]his 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."[24]


The album was listed at number twenty-nine in the book 100 Best Australian Albums, published in October 2010.[25]


ARIA Awards

The ARIA Music Awards of 2009 nominations were announced on 8 October 2009.[26] and Empire of the Sun received more nominations than any other artist,[27] with a total of eleven. The winners were announced on 26 November 2009.[28]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Walking on a Dream Album of the Year Won
Highest Selling Album Nominated
Best Pop Release Won
"Walking on a Dream" Single of the Year Won
Highest Selling Single Nominated
Best Video (directed by Josh Logue) Won
"We Are the People" Nominated
Empire of the Sun Best Group Won
Empire of the Sun and Donnie Sloan with Peter Mayes Producer of the Year Won
Aaron Hayward and David Homer from Debaser Best Cover Art Won
Peter Mayes Engineer of the Year Nominated

BRIT Awards

Year Recipient Award Result
2010 Walking on a Dream Best International Album[29] Nominated

Track listing

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Standing on the Shore"  Luke Steele, Nick Littlemore, Peter Mayes 4:23
2. "Walking on a Dream"  Steele, Littlemore, Jonathan Sloan 3:16
3. "Half Mast"  Steele, Littlemore, Sloan, Mayes 3:54
4. "We Are the People"  Steele, Littlemore, Sloan 4:27
5. "Delta Bay"  Steele, Littlemore, Mayes 3:12
6. "Country"  Littlemore 5:04
7. "The World"  Steele, Littlemore, Mayes 4:36
8. "Swordfish Hotkiss Night"  Steele, Littlemore, Mayes 3:55
9. "Tiger by My Side"  Steele, Littlemore, Mayes 5:47
10. "Without You"  Steele, Littlemore, Sloan 5:00


Credits for Walking on a Dream adapted from liner notes.[33]

  • Empire of the Sun – production
  • Debaser – artwork, illustrations
  • Mike Marsh – mastering
  • Peter Mayes – engineering, mixing, production
  • Donnie Sloan – production (2–4, 10)
  • Chris Vallejo – additional engineering



Region Certification
Australia 2× Platinum[5]
Germany Gold[48]
Ireland Gold[49]
United Kingdom Gold[6]

Release history

Region Date Label Edition
Australia[50] 3 October 2008 Capitol Records Standard
Ireland[51] 13 February 2009 Virgin Records
United Kingdom[52] 16 February 2009
Denmark[53] 18 February 2009 EMI
Netherlands[57] 20 February 2009
Germany[59] 13 March 2009
France[60] 16 March 2009
Italy[61] 27 March 2009
United States[62] 21 April 2009 Astralwerks, Virgin Records
Japan[31] 10 June 2009 EMI Music Japan
Australia[63] 20 November 2009 Capitol Records Special
Germany[32] EMI
France[66] 23 November 2009
Denmark[67] 25 November 2009


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