Before the London-based alt-pop duo even came to be known as “Oh Wonder,” they were just Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht — two music-making teenagers with a dream. In pursuit of that dream, in September 2014, they decided to challenge themselves with the goal of releasing one song a month for a year on Soundcloud, which quickly transformed their lives.
Their music garnered an abundance of attention, and before they knew it they were signed to a record label, released albums that topped the charts, and toured the world with sold-out shows.
Now on their third album, it’s clear that they still have that same ambition to dream and create that they did almost six years ago but with a fresh sensibility and new sense of direction.
This album, titled “No One Else Can Wear Your Crown,” is characterized by stories of heartache, healing, and hope that have come with their discovery and evolution as individuals, music partners, and romantic partners.
On the surface, it might seem like some songs are hollow or mainstream, but despite the seemingly overdone clichés and money-making tropes such as over-romanticized sickness and falling in love with someone at a bar, there are songs that find deep sentiment and meaning in an overlooked reality. There are complex and vulnerable revelations burrowed into common, familiar situations that verge on something quite new. Evident throughout the album is a theme of healing in all of its various forms whether it be denial, acceptance, or empowerment and how throughout the whole process, there is growth.
Throughout each song, Oh Wonder creates these panoramic moments of bittersweet clarity intertwined in scattered electronic melodies and vulnerable lyrics; their songs expose intimate experiences of love and loss, which necessitate both mental and emotional processing to heal and grow.
Of the 10 tracks, there seem to be five key concepts laid into the main theme of the album. The songs “I Wish I Never Met You” and “Happy” reflect on the harsh reality of betrayal and the complicated process of forgiveness and acceptance in moving on. The songs “Drunk On You” and “Nothing But You” reflect on infectious infatuation , whether that be with someone at a bar or even an astronaut. The songs “In And Out Of Love” and “Nebraska” reflect a little deeper on love and unexpectedly deeper on Anthony and Josephine’s relationship with each other, which they have kept quiet about until now. The songs “Hallelujah” and “How It Goes” are empowering anthems, encouraging the listener to keep going no matter what happens. Lastly, the songs “Dust” and “Better Now” both reflect on the inconceivably daunting and yet strangely beautiful concept of our finite existence.
Comprehensively, the album recognizes that healing isn’t just moving forward, but it is this multivarious process of moving backwards and forwards and backwards again in acceptance of that confusing and complicated process.
Overall, a majority of the songs on the album have a distinguishably melancholic, slightly aching tone, but there is a beautiful sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance that washes over it all, leaving beaming, effervescent inklings of bliss and, well, wonder.