So. We’ll admit this one is as weird for us to review as it might be for Oh Wonder to read. Weird for them given theirs is a success story that not even they could have predicted. About a year ago, as Wonder Wonder, the duo decided to release a track a month; today, they’ve sold out shows worldwide, have over 2m plays on Soundcloud, and are about to release their self-titled first collection.
It’s weird for us because, essentially, everyone has heard all of these songs before. Whether anyone will still purchase the album given the ready availability of its components is a fact not lost on Josephine and Anthony, but like any new act their body of work does deserve scrutiny.
We do like Oh Wonder, we really do. Their delicate tones on Body Gold were an absolute marvel, a hushed boy-girl dynamic that no one had really perfected till they came along. As months went by, more tracks came, some sticking more than others – Technicolour Beat and White Blood in particular resonating with us as the perfect marriage of the light and shade both members bring.
The problem is that the rest of it feels very stencilled. It’s like a formula was found and each successive song was an iteration of the last but with a minor tweak, like a patch in a software update. Which is such a shame, because they clearly have a knack for melody and meshing together beats, string, and piano for lilting alt-pop, but after a while there’s nothing inventive about the sound.
In their defence, perhaps they didn’t realise that it would come to this after a year. Perhaps they thought they might give up. But essentially the problem remains not in the model of their releases (which is interesting nonetheless) but the content, and this obstinacy not to divert from that twee sound into an xx-rivalling pop vehicle. The drip feeding may have worked initially, but as a body of work this monochrome blend renders Oh Wonder no wonder at all.
Oh Wonder by Oh Wonder can be ordered here.