New synth-pop duo on the block Oh Wonder – Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West – are a classically trained and multi-instrumental duo from south-east London, and are new electronic darlings of the mainstream music media. have been releasing a track a month, with a total of 13.5 million listens on YouTube. They are releasing their first album – OW – which was an accumulation of these releases.
They’ve been getting a fair bit of hype lately from up the chain by publications like The Guardian and They are headliners for Falls Festival shows in Lorne (Victoria), Marion (Tasmania) and Byron Bay (NSW) at the end of 2015. One of the interesting things about them is they started releasing their album track bytrack since September 2014 last year.
It’s time to check it out myself.
I admit I’m out of my depth here to review this, as it’s not really electronica but rather electronically produced music. That’s harder for me to review in any great detail. But that’s automatically a good thing, because it means I’ve already decided to give this a second listen so I can “get it” properly.
OW is outside of any generic conventions and these soft ballads will be eaten up by chicks breaking up with boyfriends and eating stupid amounts of chocolate. ‘Livewire’ immediately shows these two are a class act and their voices match each perfectly, note for note. They have a unique brand of sound of which they can truly call their own, but one which also delivers interest without getting boring.
Let’s stick with what I know, because I might sound like an idiot if I attempt to get into too much technicality on specific elements/ It’s great for what it is; It has all the sounds in all the right places; the production is flawless; your girlfriend will love it (if we are to make gender-based assumptions of girls listen to) and so do I right now; They sound really nice and perfectly in tune; They sound like a James Blake split into a male and a female.
Halfway through the album, I now think OW is mind-numbing and borderline-soppy fluff; it’s bland, formulated and not actually original synth-pop; It certainly doesn’t sound anything remotely like James Blake in terms of overall production (what was I thinking?!), and Oh Wonder’s voices are starting to grate. Their voices stick to the same octaves, which cling like rotten velvet to the album’s increasingly ordinary production.
Ten tracks would have been more effective than fifteen here. This effects the integrity of the album as a whole, and was a definate mistake. Now the best thing about Oh Wonder has become they are cute and have a good release model.
However, they’ll be getting a broader audience in the future and a lot more attention, and most of this will be for good reason. Anthony and Josephine’s star has risen now with this debut album release, but their longevity will depend on gaining some substances and guts to match their obvious talent.