Oh Wonder — Ultralife (Jul 14, 2017) ★→•» SUN 19 NOV: ROXY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
★→•» Éterické dobrodružství, mistrovské skladatelské schopnosti.
★→•» This London duo’s self~titled debut made unlikely, but successful, bedfellows of soul~jazz sophistication and glitchy alt~pop. Here, they take the formula to new extremes, fusing earth~clearing wub~wub synths with cocktail~lounge piano on “Heavy.” Ultralife’s melodic sharpness, however, is its most striking quality. It will take only one listen for the love~struck title track to tattoo itself onto your brain, before the whack~a~mole rhythms and grinding synths of “High on Humans” are wrangled into a euphoric head~rush of a chorus.
Location: London, England
Genre: Indie pop electropop alternative
Album release: Jul 14, 2017
Record Label: Universal / Island Records
01 Solo 3:25
02 Ultralife 3:32
03 Lifetimes 3:53
04 High on Humans 3:11
05 All About You 3:02
06 Heavy 3:12
07 Bigger Than Love 3:40
08 Heart Strings 3:25
09 Slip Away 3:41
10 Overgrown 3:58
11 My Friends 4:55
12 Waste 4:17
℗ 2017 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited
√ UK Albums: #8
√ New Zealand Heatseekers Albums (RMNZ) #5
★→•» Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht of Oh Wonder began the writing process with a month in an Airbnb in Brooklyn, New York in April 2016. Later in the year, they returned to their hometown of London after a year of touring the world, and wrote the second half of the record. The twelve songs were recorded over a 10~day period at The Pool Studio, Bermondsey in December 2016 and finished at their home studio at the start of 2017. The duo wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the record themselves.
About Oh Wonder
★→•» Oh Wonder is the London, England~based songwriting duo of Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, who craft and sing — in unison — wispy, mostly slow~grooving, R&B~flecked tunes. Beginning in September 2014, they set out to write, record, and release one song a month for a year, culminating in their D.I.Y. debut album of keyboard and drum~machine songs. Titled Oh Wonder, it was issued in early September 2015. In the meantime, the band became an online viral sensation, garnering millions of streams; received high~profile radio play at home; and was signed to Republic Records. They also had live dates scheduled in places like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and New York City sell out before the album’s arrival and before ever performing publicly. The debut went on to chart in the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.S. (where it landed in the top half of the Billboard 200), and Canada (where it reached the Top 20). The follow~up, their first to be conceived as an album, was heavily influenced by the relative isolation of traveling the world on tour. With instrumentation including analog synths and actual bass, drums, and strings, the self~produced Ultralife arrived in mid~2017. ~ Marcy Donelson
Laura Giles July 10, 2017 / Score: ★★★★½
★→•» Oh Wonder’s extraordinary sophomore album ‘Ultralife’ exposes their huge talent.
★→•» In this day and age, most pop bands occur after years of planning, but not Oh Wonder.
★→•» An accidental band, their 2015 debut album was filled with tracks from a ‘song~a~month’ project they carried out. Three months later, they realised they had developed international backing and soon enough labels circled — but they refused to sign.
★→•» After releasing their debut they booked four shows — London, Paris, New York, and L.A. — which all sold out within a week. From then on they have played 162 shows in 14 months across 112 cities, and a mighty 83,000 tickets sold. Turning London~based Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West into reluctant pop stars. Now Oh Wonder are releasing their extraordinary second album, ‘Ultralife’, written in New York and entirely composed, written and produced by the duo. Their experimental debut album can be heard throughout this record, with it’s hypnotic vocals and exposed, emotional lyrics. However, ‘Ultralife’ expands on the bewitching, ethereal beauty of their debut whilst adding the weight of the experience and success they have gained over the past two years.
★→•» Once again, Anthony West’s analogue synths make an appearance which is key to the song’s classic Oh Wonder sound. The recording of ‘Ultralife’ had to be done around the TFL bus timetable. “Our studio is on a busy main road, on the corner of two bus routes,” explains Anthony. “Whenever we’d start recording, another bus would go by. We couldn’t do vocals before 10pm.” The album opens with the sound of buses and police sirens showing how their lives are in these songs. Boasting live instrumentation throughout the album, you can get an idea of what their shows sound like; inspiring and thrilling.
★→•» The twelve track album includes previous releases such as ‘Ultralife’, ‘Lifetimes’, ‘High On Humans’, ‘Heavy’, and ‘My Friends’. The band recently released a video for ‘High On Humans’ which features Jose Vanders sitting in a bath of alphabetti spaghetti and sparkly ice lollies; what’s not to love? Euphoric harmonies backed with myriad beats, drums and synths have all been compiled together to create one fantastic action packed track.
★→•» The previously unheard tracks on the album still have that classic Oh Wonder sound, expressing their talent through their insane ability to create such different tracks but still stick to a similar style. ‘It’s All About You’ is the fifth track on ‘Ultralife’ and is one of the funkiest tracks on it. The harmonies, backing vocals and instruments all work together with a perplexing beauty. Closing the album with ‘Waste’, Oh Wonder have channelled their inner Bon Iver by opening the track with synths working in harmony and slow calm vocals slowly being layered on top of this. If you thought ‘My Friends’ was a beautiful track, this one exceeds that by a mile.
★→•» Journeying from beginning to end of ‘Ultralife’, the pace of each track slows. Opening with the sounds of the New York Police sirens shows the energy which the city brings to the duo and how it inspired them to write the tracks. This energy was then brought to light in ‘Ultralife’, the first track to be released which is one of the best tracks around. This album is certainly memorable to say the least and Oh Wonder are, and will always be, one of the most talented accidental bands around.
ANDRE PAINE. Friday 14 July 2017 16:01 BST / Score: ★★★★
★→•» Songwriting, not stardom, was the only ambition for Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West.
★→•» But their music gathered online momentum and, almost by accident, they became a successful duo rather than hit~makers for hire.
★→•» Self~produced at their home studio in Brockley, Oh Wonder’s second album is bigger and bolder than their first, though it never strives too hard for pop perfection.
★→•» The intertwining vocals are as lovely as ever on the gorgeous grooves of Heart Strings, Heavy and Lifetimes.
★→•» Although they consistently deliver uplifting melodies, lyrically the mood is sweetly introspective.
★→•» Solo is a dreamy tune about getting away from it all, while High on Humans takes its unlikely inspiration from daring to talk to strangers on the Tube.
★→•» The duo’s unshowy style allows these songs to shine — you wouldn’t want anyone singing them on their behalf.