Oh Land brings with her Danish flair a real whirlwind of styles and beats for her third album “Wishbone”. It’s an album of contrast’s which showcase some of the most mainstream, and some of the more quirkier deliveries Oh Land has managed to date and it’s duelling nature is bound to cause arguments among fans.
One track I think everyone can agree is amazing however is the opener “Bird In An Aeroplane” which mashes old and new electro pop tricks. The verses are spacious and slowmo mind melding before the choruses burst into a buzzing of wings and saws. The mid tempo beat clunks along and a special shout out to the lyrics which I love including “every machine has a promise to break” – which as an IT man I salute! Ultimate cool pop track “Renaissance Girls” is simple in its percussive delivery but it’s crammed with awesome lyrics, funny bells and big piano chords. It is a track that deserves to be riding chart and radio success and is by far the most mainstream Oh Land has been so far. “Cherry On Top” takes things slower with a trip hop beat and plenty of swimmy organs and glockenspiel melodies. It’s a spacious track that builds itself up for anthemic choruses that are again simple but catchy and effective.
“3 Chances” is an unusual track which is primarily a harp and vocal track that’s given a drum beat that sounds like feet stomps. It has an unusual chord structure and isn’t the most immediate track but after repeat listens it’s a short and beautiful track that needs time to fester inside your head. Possibly the most incoherent track is “My Boxer” which is like filthy, dirty, slutty and gritty Hollaback Girl homage. Oh Land speaks the verses and then hums a melody for the chorus in-between “throws an uppercut”. It feels like a throwaway track but again after a few listens you’ll find yourself shouting “Does Baby like weird?!” along with the minimalist drums and guitars. In a similar vein “Love A Man Dead” has massive drum loops smashing over your eardrums but takes the spoken word into a backing vocal context and has an epic if clumsy darkness to the anti-pop track. It feels all a bit awkward but yet that’s what gives it such character. Sometimes a songs flaws are what make the track uniquely great and that’s case here.
“Next Summer” is a brooding piano and atmosphere led track which is thick with minor chords and lots of industrial creaks and grinds as the piano and mbira tap out the melody. Oh Land’s vocals are beautifully layered here to show her vocal talent which isn’t pushed much in this album. “Sleepy Town” however is one place where the vocals are let loose in this pulsating progressive industrial track. The melody broods behind a lot of static noises and crashing cymbal loops and then unleashes into a pure melody for the choruses – like waking from the night. Pulling back into the pop realm “Pyromaniac” is funky guitar spangle pop at its finest. It’s got a little bit of rock, a little bit more disco and a fair smattering of sass throughout. Possibly the gem in the album is “Green Card” however which has all the catchiness of the other pop tracks but has something quintessentially Oh Land-ish to make it feel just a little left of centre – and that drum beat is so fierce you can’t help but shake it out. The way it flips itself from tempo to tempo at the flick of a drum is fantastic too.
The album takes a more darker electronic vibe with “Kill My Darling” which is harsh, brash and seedy in its instrumentation and then sexy in the chorus with the vocals going for the slow and sassy approach over fading piano clunks. It’s a nice mesh of thoughts that works really well. “Love You Better” is the sole pure ballad as an acoustic guitar plucks the melody as Oh Land considers how she’ll love better when she’s old, blind and deaf. Strangely again, it works because of its sincere approach this time. The album then closes with “First to Say Goodnight” which enjoys pitch bending bass lines and fake accordion riffs in the verses before it goes into rolling drums and organs for the choruses. Meshing different sounds together has always been a staple of the Danish singer and here she signs off with a great example.
“Wishbone” is art-pop but also shows an artist that’s willing to push a concept all the way through for better or worse. Thankfully the vast majority of the album falls into better and you can rest assured that experimental pop can reward you in amazing tunes here. Wish comes true!