In 2014, Owl City released an EP called Ultraviolet and released "Beautiful Times" as the lead single. Following the release, Young stated his intent to release a steady "series of EPs" in 2014 rather than one larger recording. On October 7, 2014, Young released two new songs simultaneously, "You're Not Alone" featuring Britt Nicole and "Tokyo" featuring Sekai no Owari. The former would eventually become part of the international edition of the album while the latter would become the fourth track of the Japanese edition. The song "Up All Night" from the extended play, Ultraviolet was included on the Japanese edition of the album as well.
On May 12, 2015, the album name was revealed along with its artwork, track listing and release date was announced despite his intentions to release a series of EPs instead of a full-length album.
Young collaborated with several artists to provide additional vocals for the other songs on the album: U.K. artist Sarah Russell for the track called "Thunderstruck", Jake Owen for the country pop song called "Back Home", Avicii's "Wake Me Up!" vocalist Aloe Blacc for the graduation-themed song "Verge", and Hanson for the song "Unbelievable".
In an interview with Billboard, he revealed the intent behind the name of the album saying, "The title is kind of a pun on the fact that I have a hard time switching off the creative side of my brain. Therefore, I'm always working on some lyric or some rhyme or some melody that won't leave me alone. The blessing and the curse of how all this amazing technology now fits in a little box, in a laptop. The blessing and the curse is that you can always be working on something, literally anywhere. On the airplane, I'll probably do that later today. I'll probably be on the flight, putting my headphones on, just messing around. You can be on buses and trains. The idea is that,with all the technology, one guy sitting in front of a laptop can create the sound of an 80-person symphony. All the moving parts and all the bells and whistles. That's the cool imagery for what I do."
After the song was previewed on ESPN's "Draft Academy" on May 5, it was announced that "Verge", featuring Aloe Blacc, would be released on May 14 as the album's lead single. A lyric video of "Verge" was later published on Owl City's Vevo channel on YouTube on May 13, 2015, along with an announcement for an upcoming music video.
On June 5, 2015, the music video for "My Everything" was released on VEVO and YouTube.
On June 26, 2015, "Unbelievable" featuring Hanson, was released.. A European version will be released in early 2016 featuring Karen Damen, Kristel Verbeke and Josje Huisman (former members of the band K3) with rewritten lyrics replacing the Hanson part.
The album received mixed reviews from music critics before its release. Brian Mansfield, rating the album two and a half stars out of four at USA Today, opines, "Young's light-hearted approach doesn't always work, though, even when his heart's in the right place". Awarding the album four stars from CCM Magazine, Andy Argyrakis states, "he has never been shy about his faith, which continues alongside the mounds of sugary surges that permeate...Mobile Orchestra". Sarah Brehm, giving the album three stars at HM Magazine, writes, "Mobile Orchestra is a solid electronica album". Rating the album four stars for Jesus Freak Hideout, Scott Fryberger describes, "another solid pop album...Mobile Orchestra is a big, fat, shiny diamond". Jessica Morris, indicating in a four and a half star review by PPCORN, says, "Mobile Orchestra is unpredictable, electric, vibrant and full of meaning...absolutely fantastic". Signaling in a four and a half star review from New Release Today, states, "Mobile Orchestra is easily the best alternative music album of the year...this album is chock-full of optimistic messages about love, faith and life wrapped around some incredibly hooky beats and dance floor tempos". Justin Sarachik of BREATHEcast commended the album commenting, "Overall Owl City's Mobile Orchestra is an intense musical symphony from all fronts that not only tickles the ears, but pulls on the heartstrings with hope, positivity, and encouragement. Adam Young unabashedly expresses his faith and beliefs on these songs, and does so to a mainstream audience without so much of a hint of holding back. Mobile Orchestra is a great release for Owl City, and a sure fire hit with some staying people." Reviewing for the The National newspaper, Saeed Saeed also praised the album overall, rating it three stars and cited "Verge", "Back Home" and "My Everything" as the highlights of the album but was less positive to "Unbelievable" and "Bird With a Broken Wing". Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe commented on the album positively saying, "Six years after the commercial breakthrough "Fireflies," Owl City's Adam Young has virtually mastered his poppy electronica-lite formula, and aims straight for the mainstream with this earnest, eager-to-please new work. These carefully manicured, melodic songs are much too transparent and lightweight, though, to leave much of an impression."
Despite its positive reviews, the album is not without its detractors. Opining for New York Daily News, Jim Farber gave the album 2 stars out of five saying, "Everything on the new album by Owl City sounds as if it was recorded by children, or trolls. In fact, it was largely created by an adult male: Adam Young, who uses Owl City as his stage name. From his first international smash, “Fireflies" in 2009, Young has specialized in candy-coated electronics, kiddie melodies and lyrics that could make a motivational speaker seem suicidally depressed." Rating the album also two out of five stars, Tshepo Mokoena of The Guardian also criticized the album saying, "Mobile Orchestra attempts to package and sell the intimacy of relationships. Unfortunately, the results are so poorly executed they feel almost insulting, employing cliches and metaphors rather than digging into the terrifying vulnerability and pulsating rush that accompanies romantic love." She added that the album is "unoriginal and twee" but "destined for commercial success." Randall Colburn, signaling with a C+ grade from The A.V. Club, believes, "It's both reassuring and mildly disappointing, then, that Mobile Orchestra finds Young branching out both sonically and lyrically...Nothing on Mobile Orchestra indicates he's found his new muse, but it reveals a well of passion for that discovery." Randy W. Cross, rating the album three and a half stars at Worship Leader, writes, "Mobile Orchestra is replete with the beats that brought throngs of fans to the Owl City sound."
In response to negative feedback, Young said in an interview with Billboard that, "There's definitely a trick. With anything that you do, for anybody, there's always going to be somebody who loves it, somebody who hates it, somebody in the middle. I feel like I read a stat once that was like, "If you put something out, there's 5% of everyone who loves it, 5% who hates it, and 90% of people who just kind of check it out and move on." So, it's definitely a trick to not dwell on the good or the bad. In terms of reading reviews online and things like that, I feel like I've nailed down a super healthy approach at that stuff. So, I will definitely check it out a little bit, but the moment it feels like I'm dwelling on it too much or thinking about it too much, I step back and remember at the end of the day, I've just got to do the best job that I know how to do and just be sincere and be honest, try to do the right thing. At the end of the day, people will talk and that's totally cool and I'll just keep fighting the good fight."
All tracks written by Adam Young except where noted.
Source: Mobile Orchestra (Liner notes). Owl City. 2015.