Oh Wonder’s ‘No One Else Can Wear Your Crown’ lacks the duet’s usual chemistry

Oh Wonder

No One Else Can Wear Your Crown

Island Records· February 7, 2020


Oh Wonder’s No One Else Can Wear Your Crown is the pair’s third studio album, with songs “Hallelujah,” “Better Now,” “I Wish I Never Met You,” and “Happy” released prior to the full album drop.

The tracks are ambient with prominent instrumentals peeking through in each. The duo, consisting of Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, contrasts each other sharply with their distinct vocals. Vander Gucht’s voice is high-pitched and smooth, while West’s voice has a slightly rougher edge.  

The ticking in “Dust,” the first track, lends the song an anxious feeling, and the song’s very presence on the album is confusing. The album is like a teenage rom-com movie donned with flowery montages and gut wrenching breakup scenes, but the audience is confused by an opener acting, as the duo described in a Billboard interview, as a “stream-of-consciousness about the state of the world and the craziness of capitalism.” .

“Hallelujah” continues with promise, but adjusts to a quicker pace which almost feels rushed. The bass pounds, but not in a desirable way like some of their older successful tracks, like “Body Gold,” have mastered. Each song seems to be categorized by this formula, starting out sweet and hopeful, if at times melancholic, and then exploding into an obnoxious soundfest. 

The album revolves around relationships, but uses overdone cliches to hit the listener over the head with its subject. It’s like they’re saying, “This is an album about relationships!” In “Happy,” Oh Wonder tries to get away with the “I didn’t think that I’d see you here tonight” line. “In and Out of Love” bursts forth with “You’re like god damn dynamite” and “Drunk on You” is laced with line after line like, “We were sitting curbside, late night, city views / Sipping on some cheap wine and staring at the moon.”

In addition to the weak lyricism, the album doesn’t really feel cohesive. There’s not one element which ties everything together besides the somewhat consistent relationship theme. In theirBillboard interview, the pair describes each of their songs and what they’re about. The topics range far and wide, with absurd descriptions like , “This is a jazzy-tinged reflection on what it would be like to be dating an astronaut.” It’s no wonder (unintentional almost pun) the record sounds all over the place, and it’s because it quite frankly is. 

After seven years together, West and Vander Gucht are not only musical partners, but romantic partners as well. Despite their long relationship, the album suffers from a lack of chemistry. Their voices, which have blended beautifully before in some of their other works, keep bumping into each other here like in a pinball machine, confined to such small boundaries that there’s nowhere else to go.

 

Listen to No One Else Can Wear Your Crown:

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