Oh Wonder are back with new single “22 Break,” the title track from the duo’s surprise new album (out on Island Records on October 8th).
The project was teased earlier this week by the cinematic visual for the short film set to accompany the record, which also previewed opening track “Baby.” All of this follows 2020’s No One Else Can Wear Your Crown, and back-to-back top 10 albums from the band who have – on their own distinct terms – become one of UK pop’s more unsuspecting success stories (2.7 billion streams, 1.7 million adjusted album sales, and vocal fans from the likes of Billie Eilish, who covered “All We Do” during her Apple documentary).
By their own design, Oh Wonder have always flown a little below the public radar. Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West have played music together since 2014 and have been quietly romantically involved since 2013.
By the time they confirmed their engagement on No One Else Can Wear Your Crown, life was going smoothly: then of course the pandemic hit, and a 120-date world tour was subsequently and heartbreakingly canceled.
This deeply personal time in their private lives is the subject of Oh Wonder’s fifth studio album, 22 Break. Written autonomously in their home studio, the songs that form it are messages about their true feelings, expressed before they were able to find the words to say to one another. It’s an honest and powerfully beautiful record, and one that lets listeners into the Oh Wonder fold like never before. As Josephine puts it: “We were just writing songs. We had no idea we were writing a break-up album.”
‘22 Break’ is a portal into emotional states, and the life-changing, universal breakup themes (loneliness, inadequacy, resentment, fears for the future) as experienced in real-time by one couple in their garden shed.
“It was such a weird thing, to make a break-up album with the person you’re breaking up with, while you’re breaking up,” Anthony reflects. Even stranger, the album that almost ended them proved to be the band’s salvation: 22 Break is an ultimately cathartic, deeply hopeful project, the light at the end of the tunnel that was Oh Wonder’s quite particular pandemic.