You may not have heard of Oh Wonder. In fact, until recently, I would have been surprised if you had. The duo from South-East London, Josephine and Antony, have only been releasing music for a year and their first ever concert was earlier this month – they’re relatively new in the music world, so undoubtedly, relatively unheard of. So try not to be too surprised that the album hit 26th position in the official charts a week after release.
In fairness to the duo, although they may have only started performing live concerts recently, they have been actively present in the online music scene for a while. Oh Wonder – briefly called Wonder Wonder – managed to create great buzz in the twelve-month build up to the album’s release this September by releasing one track each month onto SoundCloud. Although The Wedding Present did this in 1992, it still remains an alternative method of releasing music in this day and age, but it appears to have paid off. The result was each track reaching number one on the Hype Machine chart, and they claimed to have notched up 35 million streams on Spotify and SoundCloud before the album was even released.
Whilst Oh Wonder may have only just entered the world of live performance, they are certainly doing well. The duo’s first ever live performance was in August on BBC Radio 1 at their Maida Vale studio. Equally impressive is that the first concert that was earlier this month was completely sold out. There aren’t too many bands that can claim to have had that for their first performance.
The self-named album, Oh Wonder, is actually a good album, at least technically speaking. Having written, composed and produced the album in their home studio, it is unsurprising that the duo are classically trained multi-instrumentalists. And this is quite clear on the album. Not only are the songs lyrically and harmonically interesting, the production aspect of each song is good too (despite it being home-produced). It is very obvious that the album was created by people who understand the science of music.
So how do the duo sound? The album has a slow, chilled feel – think late-night jams and that is the album. In combining electric, pop and alternative music, they could easily be compared to The xx, James Blake, or London Grammar. Like most albums in this genre, the songs tend to have the same feel. They differ slightly – Lose It has an almost jazzy feel, Dazzle sounds slightly more pop-influenced. But it is clear that the songs belong to the same album. The music in the album is simple; there is never too much going on in the track. Male-female vocals, which add to the feeling due to the duo’s choice to harmonise in octaves, set against sparse beats and a minimalistic tune. The result is an album that is literally easy listening.
Whilst the music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is still worth a listen. When you take into account that this is the duo’s first album and it was made at home, you can’t deny it is a good album.