Published by JB on December 20, 2015
Release date: September 4, 2015
Album Review: Oh Wonder – Oh Wonder
So, the new London pop duo consisting of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West that comprises Oh Wonder boldly release an elegantly packaged double album of songs that have been released previously at a pace of one per month. A double album as a debut? 15 tracks on a debut? Those are tough feats to pull off. So do they?
Pretty close. The album cover looks like something from Apple (it will sit great right next to that old iPad box you loved but never picked up again). Simple, light, quality, effective. Those traits permeate well into this low-key pop album that relies on thin arrangements, tiny hooks and breathy vocals that both singers share. Vader Gucht dominates most of the sound but nearly everything sounds like a duo. However, over a 15-track double vinyl it’s just a little too much to pull off. There isn’t the growth from track to track to make it sound like you’ve opened a new door. Instead, the simple arrangements keep you locked in the same room. By track 10, you’re wondering if they could possibly sound the same for five more tracks; and for the most part, they do. For some fans, that’s perfect. For others, it can make you restless.
Now the songs themselves are just fine. Some are great, and all of them are worth a first listen. Oh Wonder feature fine vocalists and tracks like ‘Without You’ show a legitimate songwriting talent and a keen sense of a pop hook. Where they struggle is more with volume, than quality. Everything here sounds catchy and impassioned (& sounds much like Tennis – a very similar type of pop duo) but there’s just too much of it. Think of Oh Wonder like a new, delicious, big jar of peanut butter; that you’ve been told you need to consume all in one day. Pretty cool at first.
The final calling of any album is how much does it want to make the listener await the next release. In this instance, quite a bit. Here’s hoping to see this fine duo open more doors and move into other rooms in years ahead. 15 tracks on the same sofa is just a lot to ask.