Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: ADA
Genre(s): Pop, Electronic, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Club/Dance
Nanna Oland Fabricius once dreamed of being a ballet dancer, only to have her aspirations curtailed by injury. So instead she opted for the no less competitive discipline of left-field Scandinavian pop music, and this second album sees her making a decent fist of it. Produced by TV On the Radio's Dave Sitek, who has also signed Oh Land to his label, it has the well-reduced sonic stock you might expect, with no element ever crowded out.
Upon first listen, Wishbone, the third outing from Danish pop provocateur Nanna Øland Fabricius, better known as Oh Land, sounds like a singer/songwriter trapped inside a fully functioning pinball machine, all whirring, well-oiled gears, flashing bulbs, and carefully timed levers snapping into place, but multiple spins reveal a far more enigmatic voice. Oh Land's schizophrenic blend of girly club beats, icy electro-pop, and wistful balladry falls somewhere between Grimes, Lykke Li, Goldfrapp, and Robyn, and while it doesn't always work, it never stops working hard to get there. Released via Federal Prism, a boutique label run by Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), Wishbone is at its best when it finds the middle ground between quirky and quixotic, as is the case on the resplendent opener "Bird in an Aeroplane" (and to a lesser extent its churning, less succinct midtempo sibling "Sleepy Town"), the coy, campy, and ultimately infectious single "Renaissance Girls," and the torchy "3 Chances," all of which frame Fabricius' enigmatic lyrics with exotic yet oddly familiar pop architecture in the vein of French/Finnish duo the Dø.
Dave Sitek not only produced most of ‘Wish Bone’, he deemed it worthy of being the first album released on his new Federal Prism label. But when Brooklyn-based, Denmark-bred Nanna Øland Fabricius skips first into the cutesy world of unicorn-pop on the saccharine ‘Love A Man Dead’ and then talks about kittens and sunbeams on ‘3 Chances’, she’s as frustratingly twee as a hailstorm of cupcakes. Her second album’s adventures into electronica on the squelchy, sulky ‘Kill My Darling’ and the unsettling ‘Next Summer’ are more remarkable, as is the straight-up lo-fi funk of ‘Pyromaniac’, coming on like Robyn produced by Phoenix, while the starkly romantic folk balladry of ‘Love You Better’ brings a heart-swelling shift in mood.
Nanna Øland Fabricius is 28-year-old Dane who’s been making music under the name of Oh Land since 2008. Her last album, 2011’s self-titled effort, reached the Top 5 in her native Denmark but made little impact elsewhere, despite the presence of two stellar singles in the form of Son Of A Gun and White Nights. If its follow-up, Wish Bone, is designed for sure-fire commercial success, it does a very good job of concealing it.
The press release for Danish singer Oh Land's charming but instantly forgettable Wishbone trumpets the album as “left-field pop,” but there's nothing here to out-weird the current middle ground of modern pop music, which these days is plenty odd itself. Produced by TV on the Radio guitarist Dave Sitek, Wishbone has a generally effervescent quality, but its focus on repetitive instrumental loops and sparkling but static backdrops makes it less fleet-footed and dynamic than most contemporary radio fare. Songs like opener “Bird in an Aeroplane” achieve a nice convergence between shimmering simplicity and hypnotic circularity, but this formula grows stale as it's employed again and again, from the faux-feminist froth of “Renaissance Girls” to the slamming repetition of “Love a Man Dead.