Review: Ultralife by Oh Wonder

Ultralife by Oh WonderOh Wonder debuted with a relatively minimal sound on their eponymous debut, but for their follow-up, they went in the opposite direction. Ultralife sounds, well, ultra. It sounds big. Not grand, sweeping, orchestral big – wisely, because you do not want to lose Josephine Vander Gucht’s fragile, alluring vocal in the mix – but big enough to actually be in a delicate position. With this direction Oh Wonder risks crossing over towards the typical indie pop sound that they have wisely avoided on their first release. In some spots on Ultralife, they did, especially towards the end. But perhaps that’s also because they go big, relentless, on every track. No shade, but some texture. The decision to adopt the best of 70s pop – layered pianos, a sound big enough but not very Wall of Sound – makes that balance a bit effortless. But I would have appreciated a bit of quiet like in their first album. Maybe they’d get the mix right on a third album. [NB]3/5

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