A couple of years ago, I discovered Oh Land completely by accident via an article about her frustration over being compared to Björk. That prompted me to give her a listen and when I did, I was baffled that anyone could make that comparison. Sure, they’re both Scandinavian (Danish and Icelandic, respectively) and Oh Land’s video for “Sun of a Gun” is kind of weird, but stylistically there’s just no comparison.
One of my major music pet peeves (considering I’m a Björk fan) is when people say “Oh, you should watch/hear this! It reminds me of Björk! It’s just SO WEIRD!” Please, don’t. “Weird” is an adjective, not a genre or style of music, and it does not make two artists similar at all. David Bowie was considered weird for his style and antics in the 70’s. Same could be said about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs. Does that make them comparable artists? (Please keep in mind, I’m talking about genre, not anyone’s personal preference in music.)
Sorry for getting off track. Like I said, major pet peeve.
So getting back on track, this Music Tuesday is about Oh Land’s latest album, “Wish Bone.” I just have to show off the cover first:
It kind of reminds me of the cover of Grace Jones’ Island Life, but only insofar as the plain wall and floor and the impossibly contorted body. (Oh Land’s pose would require some INSANE core strength.) I’m sure there’s a little tip of the hat there. Going back to what I said before though, that is as far as the comparison goes. I’m not saying they’re stylistically similar as artists at all.
Wish Bone is a nice progression from Oh Land’s previous self-titled album. It’s still predominantly pop, but it’s got a lot of R&B and hip-hop rhythms and beats mixed in too. It’s more independent and mature, with less of the whimsy of its more electronic pop-themed predecessor.
My two favorite tracks are easily “Renaissance Girls” and “My Boxer.” They’re both powerful, beat-heavy tracks with strong themes. To me, the latter sounds like it’s about Oh Land’s muse, making it a great song for anyone trying to get in touch with theirs, or find the inspiration to feed it. “Renaissance Girls” was the first single and is inspired by the struggle Oh Land observed (even firsthand herself) that modern women face to achieve all of our dreams while still keeping our lives together. Still, one of the great things about being a 21st century woman is the ability to be so many things at once without losing our true selves. “Tough like rocks and sweet like pearls” as Oh Land sings and even demonstrates with fantastic choreography in the music video:
Oh Land still manages to explore more tender subjects, like the measure of love, though it’s still from the perspective of someone who’s lived and experienced more than their younger self. “3 Chances” and “Love You Better” are great examples. The thumping beats are absent from both songs, so that Oh Land’s voice and lyrics really stand out. The first song is sweet and hopeful but sad, detailing the rise and fall and resurrection of a relationship stuck on a Möbius strip. The latter sounds like it could be about a timeless love, but something’s not quite right. Listen closely and you’ll get it for sure by the end when you hear her sing “I will love you best when I forget.” It’s not about a timeless love so much as it’s about loving who someone was when times were good.
“Wish Bone” is the type of pop album that shows that pop music can have a broader range than what you might expect. If that sounds like a challenge to you, then definitely check it out.