Tekst: Paul van der Zalm
The fact that Oh Wonder’s fifth album is released today with a few months delays can be called a small miracle. Last year around this time, surprise immersion ’22 Break’ which in many ways could be seen as a break-up album. There are, of course, plenty of examples of other duos who were both musically as romantic partners and who continued to work together after a relationship crisis, yet it looks even bleak for Oh Wonder’s many fans.
Fortunately, there was already light at the end of the tunnel, because if you looked closely, you could for example see from the cover of the album that something was missing and hey, eleven tracks on that album and eleven tracks on this album together makes 22! Josephine and Anthony clearly also lose their bond together only stronger and each other not only to a marriage, but now also to this makeup album with a banger cover; so the zest for life splashed out.
This also has repercussions on the lyrics. Without going sentimental, almost all about their relationship and the titles speak for themselves: in addition to the title track, for example, also ‘True Romance’, ‘Can We Always Be Friends?’, ‘Fuck It I Love You’, and ‘365’ ( if in the number of days want to be together). ‘Magnificent’ is the longest song at 4:26 and is about how special it is that they found each other. This also goes as ‘True Romance’ that included a coffee shop. Fun fact: during corona time, the duo also opened a coffee shop (‘Nola’) in Peckham, a neighbourhood in London.
Musically, it’s all on the safe side, as we’re used to from Oh Wonder. They are sweet songs in which the (well intelligible) vocals are central. What is special about Oh Wonder is that the two voices of the Vander Wests also fit together so well and Anthony’s vocals are almost synchronized with Josephine’s whispering vocals. Only ‘Can We Always Be Friends’ deviates from that a bit, Josephine grabs more attention here. Striking is the (well dosed) use of autotune, which is mainly intended as an effect. Nice is the playful use of sounds and repeating motifs in the background, which bring the tension. The album also offers enough variety. Opening track ’22 Make’ is an energetic entry and closing track ‘(I Am About To) Say Something’ a track with real drum sounds and an almost symphonic ending, ‘Stop Waiting’ a summer song with light percussion and you can hear it in ‘Fuck It I Love You’ disco elements back. Outlier is the sensual ‘True Romance’ with the text
“A real romance, I want to dance with you
I want to dance, I’ll make my bed with you”
where instead of ‘dance’ you could also fill in another verb…