Written by Eli Sulaiman
Don’t you love it when a song exactly fits your mood? How about an entire album? After listening to Oh Wonder’s new album Ultralife, I’m grateful to have come home to it. The tone that this album has set is exactly what I needed after flying for 15+ hours.
First of all, a big congratulations to Oh Wonder for having Ultralife at #8 on the Official UK Charts! Oh Wonder’s latest 12-track compilation is an easy album to chill to. Whether it’s an upbeat or slow song, the chemistry of their voices and the light production will always give you a sense of calm –the kind of calm you get when you go for a night drive to clear your head (speaking of night drives, this album is perfect for that too).
Oh Wonder is a duo, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, from London and they create indie/electro-pop music. I first found them through their songs Body Gold and All We Do, and eventually became a solid fan ever since Technicolour Beat came out. With their previous albums, singles and the new Ultralife, their signature style lives on with a few experimental variations here and there.
The album begins with Solo, entrancing us into a dreamy mind state. The voices of the duo and its dreamy synths both create a calm and endearing energy. Ultralife is where the pace of the album picks up. It’s about two people whose days went by slowly until they met each other, it’s been ‘ultralife’ ever since. ‘Ultralife’ meaning “blood running in my veins”, “so much soul inside my bones” and feeling “young, forever in the sun”.
Lifetimes has a quirky bop to it which I didn’t really think much of at first but then I found myself liking it more and more overtime, especially the bit where West has his solo right before Gucht joins him for the chorus.
High On Humans is an interesting one. The song starts off with a quirky, text-to-speech voice that repeats the title of the song in the intro and in the chorus. It’s because of this quirkiness that this particular track in the album has caught my attention, but most of all, the story behind this very track is what makes it even more captivating. The idea of this song all began when Gucht was on the tube from Heathrow Airport and eavesdropped a conversation between two girls. One of them stated she didn’t really like avocadoes to which Gucht then exclaimed, “What do you mean you don’t like avocadoes?!”. They then proceeded to have an entire conversation around hot sauces and condiments. At the end of it all, she felt an adrenaline high from connecting with these strangers. The same happened when she interacted with a man who knocked all his teeth out and was covered in blood. She believes that everyone’s mood can be lifted from this random interaction with strangers, and it’s something we should do more of and be less afraid of. I completely agree with you, Josephine. There definitely is a sense of high when we connect with strangers through having a good conversation.
Bigger Than Love is a heartfelt, emotional track, boasting about a love that is bigger than us. The pace begins to pick up again with the livelier Heart Strings. It’s about falling out of a relationship and realizing its for the best when it was all one-sided. Despite its glum subject, the tune is the complete opposite. Perhaps it could help put a smile on your face if you’re trying to get over a recent breakup. On a separate note, Heart Strings reminds me of Childish Gambino’s Sober and it’s definitely because of the electric piano they’ve used.
The album starts to slows down with Slip Away, My Friends and Waste. Slip Away and Waste touches on the vulnerability of people after a downfall in a relationship. My Friends humanizes the feelings of Oh Wonder. Despite achieving a large fan base and having multiple sold-out tours, it doesn’t stop them from feeling heavy and a little lonely at times from being far from their friends, family and home. The song is still on the subject love like the rest of the tracks, but it’s a different type of love and it’s just as important.
This entire album overall is about the rise and fall of a relationship. Its rough patches and sweet highs. When I was listening to it for the first time, I didn’t focus so much on the lyrics. I was more into the sound and it reeled me in with each track. Like I mentioned, it was exactly the kind of music I needed after a long journey. However, I’ve always been a big fan of the indie and electro-pop genre, a realm that Oh Wonder is currently dominating, so it was no surprise to me that I’d like their new album. I’m glad they’re on the top 10 of the Official UK Charts because this album deserves the recognition it is getting.
Now word on the street is that they sound even better live. My sources from Malaysia told me it was one of the best shows they’ve been to. Lucky for us, Oh Wonder is currently on tour and you still have time to see them. Check out the image or link to their tour dates below.
More on tour dates: http://ohwondermusic.com/#tour
If you haven’t heard Oh Wonder’s new album yet, this is your chance! Join the bandwagon:
Credit: Oh Wonder