Oh Wonder by Oh Wonder
To someone who only ever listens to pop punk, falling in love with an airy, indie pop album such as Oh Wonder came as something of a jolt. Almost as much a jolt as when this debut album of a London based pop duo hit the Billboard 200 list within a few days of release. Consisting of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, Oh Wonder’s self titled album can’t be compared to anything that I’ve heard to this date.
Different people will all find different sounds and messages in their music, and could easily all classify it as different genres, just because it has so many roots and directions. Certain songs are more upbeat and sound like pop, much like the artist Banks, while others are more mellow and make you want to curl up in a ball with a mug of tea, like a slow Sam Smith song would.
Formedtwo years ago, Oh Wonder has been sitting with their songs, written and all, for a while. Not knowing how to present themselves on the depths of the world wide web’s music industry, they decided to take the plunge and publish their song “Body Gold” in September 2014 on the music sharing service SoundCloud. After it was overwhelmingly well received, West and Gucht, determined to continue with their music, worked to post one song every month on this platform. Ultimately,the two got signed to Republic Records to release an album consisting of 15 tracks on September 4, 2015.
The first song I heard from the duo was “Livewire.” To me, the lyrics are about someone who has lost all of their potential and needs someone else to pull them up from this pit. With words such as “So hold me when I fall away from the lines,” the singer is asking for someone to be their “livewire.” It has a smooth jazzy vibe, and as this is the first song on the album, introduces us to the pair’s unique style. In an interview with the online music magazine “Earmilk,” Oh Wonder explained that all of their songs are a collaborative project between the two. They both write the poetry that is their songs, craft the music, sing and release. Another fan favorite is “Technicolour Beat.” The singers’ voices blend together until they become one, sounding dreamy and warm, a perfect song to stare out of a window to.
The band had live concerts scheduled for fall 2015 in cities including London, Amsterdam, Paris, Los Angeles, and New York City sell out before the album’s arrival and before ever performing publicly. One negative I have found on the album, however, is that if you listen to it all in one sitting, as a whole, you will find yourself lost in the songs, since most of them sound so similar. For example, the songs “All We Do” and “Heart Hope” are hard to tell apart, besides from their choruses. With the slow, groovy piano and drum beats, blended into the singers’ perfectly united voices, the sound becomes repetitive.
Nevertheless, throughout the album, there are many noticeable, deep themes about topics such as breakups, hope for the future and even gambling addictions. Josephine Gucht, to represent her dedication to her lyrics, went as far as to get a tattoo on her lower calf of their song titled “Heart Hope.” Maybe that is exactly what the duo needs to deal with their future releases. With more than 35 million streams on Spotify and Soundcloud, along with demanding fans, this band will definitely need to discover their “higher self deep within,” like they did in “Heart Hope,” in their next records to impress their listeners once more, like they did in autumn 2015 with Oh Wonder.