Friday, 18 December 2015

Albums of 2015 #1 Oh Wonder - Oh Wonder

Breaking More Waves’ favourite record of 2015 is the debut record by Oh Wonder.

If you scan the end of year lists there are certain records you’ll probably see the critics picking time and time again; Sufjan Stevens, Julia Holter, Jamie XX. But you probably won't see Oh Wonder that often, if at all. The only time we've seen their name so far is on big American blog Hillydilly at number 9.

Does that mean it isn’t ‘good’? Does that mean that our taste is ‘poor’?

Well that’s for you to decide. Taste is about judgement and each person makes judgements about another’s taste based on their own preferences, often informed by their own personal culture.

But we haven’t selected Oh Wonder as our favourite record of the year just because we think it’s good (although of course we firmly believe it’s a truly wonderful collection of songs). We’ve chosen it because, it’s by far and away our most played record of the year. The important thing here is to understand the reasons why it’s our most played.

Here’s the answer:

2015 has been a pretty tough time in places for us, particularly from around late September when this record came out. There have been some incredibly good times as well, but parts of it have been a real slog, emotionally, physically and mentally. We haven’t told many of our friends or family this, instead battling on, trying to carry out the multiple roles we have (partner, father, boss, friend) as best we can. It’s what people expect. It’s come as a bit of a shock to some when we’ve told them that not everything is right in our world. We’ve always been pretty good at being emotionally sturdy and dependable.

Oh Wonder’s record has carried us through that time. It’s a record with a sense of hope and beauty and romance and love and tenderness that we’ve needed as a crutch when everything hasn’t seemed so good. There’s something about the words that Josephine and Anthony sing on this album that have resonated with us more than anything else we’ve heard this year. “I know you’re sad and tired, you’ve got nothing left to give, but you’ll find another life to live, I know you’ll get over it,” might not be the greatest poetry you’ve ever heard, but those words, from the song Landslide have lifted our heavy heart many times in the last few months. We’ve referred to their tune Heart Hope as being ‘a wonderfully positive hug of a song’ on the blog before, and that’s exactly what it is.

It’s the one reason that, for us, Oh Wonder stands out head and shoulders over any other album of 2015. It’s also the reason why, we believe, many other people around the world, probably the sort of people who don’t write music blogs and end of year lists, love this record. This is of course ironic, when you consider that Oh Wonder first found their music getting exposure through websites and blogs. 

Oh Wonder’s album is one that as human beings, who all experience the ups, the downs, the trials, the tribulation and the weird emotions of life, we can all relate to. It’s a very compassionate record – a record that stands for living a better life rather than the narcissistic iGeneration attitude that modern pop seems to foster these days. There’s not many bands, who on their debut, can write a song about the thought of needing immunity from disease, sadness, hopelessness or fear, using the idea of white blood cells as a metaphor for love and support after meeting a fan who had undergone an operation to remove a cancerous brain tumour.

Oh and seeing as we’ve got this far, we’d better mention the music as well. It’s lovely. Of course, it’s not for everyone (what record is – even Adele has her critics), but if like us you’re a fan of boy-girl synchronised singing over tastefully classic mid-tempo songwriting formed from piano and soft electronics, then you’ll probably find an awful lot to love from Oh Wonder.

We fully realise that Oh Wonder’s album will never be considered a ‘classic’ by the rock journalist type. The reviews it received from critics were on the whole very average. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can take away how we feel about this record and the journey we’ve been on with it in 2015.

That’s why Oh Wonder is our album of 2015.

Oh Wonder - Livewire (Video)

Oh Wonder - Without You (Video)

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