It felt like Oh Wonder made us wait for a lifetime for Ultralife since releasing their self-titled debut album two years ago, the release date was even pushed back an extra month! How dare they!
But now the agonising wait is over, all can be forgiven with a blissful masterpiece of a second album.
Recorded partly in New York, as well as their home studio in South-East London; the intro to the first track of the album is the sound of police sirens and buses outside their NYC apartment and home studio, sounds that are synonymous with living in a big city.
Solo is my personal favourite off of the highly anticipated album, the song builds its way up steadily from its delightful intro, it offers a variety of technicolour riffs and speaks of the need for headspace and alone time when you’re in a situation surrounded by people. The song is based on a house-party that you can’t wait to escape from.
While Waste, the final single on the album is the complete polar-opposite of Solo – and talks of spending too much time on your own and needing to be around people “what a waste to be so alone” is very much the standout lyric in this one.
Lifetimes was inspired after the duo attended a Drake gig, this eco-friendly, climate change hit has a feeling of Anthony West riding a bike for the first time without stabilisers, with Josephine Vander Gucht pushing him off like ‘hey you’re doing it, look at you go kid’, this is because Anthony takes centre stage, steps into the spotlight, turns his microphone up and spits some serious bars. “It’s easy come, easy go, Please make way for climaphobes”, Anthony raps.
Ultralife, the title track of the album cries out with an explosion of euphoria and is probably the single on the album that’s most likely to be heard on the radio.
High On Humans also brings upbeat Ultralife vibes to proceedings, inspired after speaking to strangers on the tube one night about hot sauce, as well as Josephine sympathising with a guy in need of dental work.
Slip Away is almost a lullaby, but you’re woken up with Overgrown, which has a similarly fun & jazzy vibe to Heavy.
My Friends is the longest piece on the album, just short of five minutes and probably the most emotional one too. Written after a tearful morning in New York whilst on their world tour, about the duo’s family & friends who they miss when they’re away from home.
Speaking to DIY Mag – “Touring obviously cripples your social life, and this song is a little admission of how out of touch we feel with the people we love back home, and a plea of sorts to remember us whilst we are travelling around the world.”
It’s been a long wait but one that hasn’t disappointed. Ultralife dives into a plethora of sub-genres that Josephine & Anthony experiment with – yet pull off with ease. This album is one that lyrically feels a lot more personal and energetic than their debut album, Ultralife takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions on both ends of the spectrum.
In an industry of artists that are afraid to be bold, take risks, and therefore churn out the same old three chord, unimaginative songs that get on to the radio for who ‘made’ them rather than musical talent, this accidental duo are by far a breath of fresh air from the rest.
Whether they are a couple or not, their musical chemistry is palpable whether it be in a studio or on stage. You will fail to find another Oh Wonder on the scene, and your ears won’t grace an album as delicately layered like this one for the rest of 2017. Ultralife is a five out of five stars album.
My ex-girlfriend recently dumped me because of my addiction to Oh Wonder lyrics. So Sandra, if you’re reading this – I’m a little bit lost without you!