It takes 22 Break a heart (an Oh Wonder album review)

22 Break is the soundtrack to a band (and couple) almost broken – that ultimately survived through lockdown. It’s a powerfully honest account of universal breakup themes; loneliness, inadequacy, resentment, fears for the future. In lockdown’s early phases, Anthony and Josephine worked hard to fill the void created by 2020. As they started working on new music, however, all the unspoken tensions between a pair who’d never really known a relationship outside of the band tumbled. 

The title track and lead single ‘22 Break’ begins, “it takes two to break a heart”; stressing how love dies when both people allow it to. This is mostly seen as what they used to talk about past relationships, but can also apply to their own. Both have spoken out about how working together in music almost caused them to break up, but it seems they were stronger than that as they both fought for the love. If it takes two and not even one is wanting it to end, then it’s a love for the ages – and that’s exactly what they’re proving in this record.

Every song is gentle and flows on the melody of love and respect. Oh Wonder has always used their relaxed sound to tell their stories, showing their souls and not hiding any secrets from their fans or each other. Tracks such as ‘Baby’ and ‘Dinner’ are notable for being autobiographical, and emphasize hard times and depressing moments in Vander Gucht and West’s relationship, but proves that even when love is stretching thin it can be mended and strengthened. Just listen to the track ‘Love Me Now’ to restore hope that unconditional love is possible.

Ultimately, the album that almost ended Oh Wonder proved to be the making of them: 22 Break is a cathartic, quietly hopeful project, the light at the end of the tunnel that was Oh Wonder’s quite particular pandemic.

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