I have this little thing that I do. As soon as music festivals announce their first round of artists, I make a playlist on Spotify with these names, all nice and neat. Some of the artists that I add I know by heart, while some are completely new to me and others I only know by name or by one song. These playlists are the perfect preparation for a music festival, as well as wonderful way to discover new music.
That’s how I discovered the band Oh Wonder. This young duo released their self-titled debut album in September 2015 and their star has been slowly rising. In the United Kingdom, Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht have become quiet the internet sensation, but here in The Netherlands, their first single “Without You” is climbing the charts and playing frequently at radio stations. It’s a track I fell in love with the minute I heard it, because of the simplistic piano keys, the lyrics sung in unison and the vague touch of R&B rhythm.
The song brought me to the album, Oh Wonder, and it has been on repeat ever since. Starting with the slow “Livewire“, the album opens up with R&B vocals, thudding piano keys, with a subtle hint of trumpets and violins. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, calm like open water, yet exciting and uplifting. The second track of the album, “Body Gold“, is more rhythmic, with subtle synths, already hinting at the biggest strength of the album. Oh Wonder’s style is minimalistic, simple and bare, yet an interesting and exciting mix of different genres, including pop, R&B and electronic.
Diving deeper into the album Oh Wonder, the attendant listener realizes it’s a story the duo is telling. A story of love, sex and heartache. The first few tracks, including the first two songs of the album and one of the singles, “Technicolor Beat“, while the track “Drive” announces the next chapter of the story: doubting the relationship, realizing love is not always meant to be and people aren’t always who you thought they were. “Lose It” continues to carry out these ideas, although it adds trumpets and a more jazzy feel. The cycle is completed with the arrival of my favorite track on the album “Without You“, when the heartache and piano keys kick in.
One aspect I personally really like is the fact that Oh Wonder’s vocals are completely sung in unison. They don’t alternate with singing verses, or divide the tracks between the two – every piece of lyrics is sung by both West and Vander Gucht, which strengthens the idea of unity. Vocals completely sung in unison is something you don’t hear very often anymore, which is why it makes Oh Wonder an interesting find.
Oh Wonder are currently on a tour through Europa and the United States, tickets for their shows can be purchased here. This upcoming Summer, the duo are also performing at Lowlands in Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands (which I’m really, really excited about!).