Alt-pop duo Oh Wonder began working together in early 2011 but made a name for themselves when they released their self-titled debut album in 2015, following an unorthodox approach of releasing a song every month beginning in September 2014. From there they released their sophomore album Ultralife in summer 2017 and most recently, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown in February 2020.
This third album is not a departure from their established sound whatsoever, with their well-established DIY synths and perfect harmonies still taking centre stage. Whilst I’m an avid believer in artists creating new bodies of work that sound new, I also wouldn’t go as far as to say this album is safe by any means, it just doesn’t push the boat out too far from the shore. As with their previous albums, it is mostly self-written and self-produced, with the occasional tracks such as ‘Happy’ and ‘Better Now’ also displaying the talents of additional songwriters. I must admit on my first listen I wasn’t blown away but when I gave it a few more spins I finally felt a connection to the tracks and developed an understanding as to where it was coming from as an art project. I think at its base, it is an album rooted in the feeling of home comforts.
The lead single ‘Hallelujah’ was released in September 2019 and is described as a bit of an eff you to people who tell you you can’t do something. The concept sounds cheesy, but it’s written and produced in a way which feels mature, building to the lyric ‘I’ll be singing Hallelujah, whether you like it or not’. It’s catchy, it’s fun and it was a good choice for a lead single. For me, the best pre-release single they chose was ‘I Wish I Never Met You’. It still holds the upbeat, joyful nature of ‘Hallelujah’, but is more personal and I love the melody for the lyric ‘you left me with these issues that I just can’t seem to shake’. It’s a really beautiful song with a lovely string / piano accompaniment, but also serves the purpose of being a bit of a banger.
Whilst this album is fun, I think its strongest moments are in the slower-tempo songs such as ‘In and Out of Love’ and ‘Nebraska’. I may have a soft-spot for ‘Nebraska’ purely because it is a place-name song and I am extremely passionate about place-name songs, but it also means the album ends with the line ‘you’re still home’, cleverly tying up an album which at its heart is about comfort and everyday life, doing away with riches and fancy production.
No One Else Can Wear Your Crown is not a ground-breaking album, but it does provide a nice soundtrack to a rainy day and a cup of tea.