Oh Wonder’s eponymous debut album was a pop album that felt refreshingly honest. All the eye-rolling lyrics were there — “Loving you is too hard”; “You love will take me higher”; etc. — but there was something in the piano-heavy production and the gentle vocal harmonies that made it sound genuine, even fragile.
“Ultralife,” the London duo’s latest track, is much bolder. Taking noticeable cues from dance-pop trends, it’s brighter and catchier — and a perfect song to start off the spring. While there’s nothing wrong with music that’s bright and catchy or with bands moving in new directions, “Ultralife” lacks some of the honesty of their previous work. The disjointed clichés (“I got so much soul inside my bones”) aren’t grounded in the same sincerity, and the production sounds awfully similar to other recent pop anthems. It’s delightful but hollow, part of the growing number of what Josephine Vander Gucht sings about on “Drive”: “the same songs with the same old beats.”