There is a mystical air that hovers around Oh Land. The Danish singer-songwriter – born Nanna Øland Fabricius – began her sparkling experimental electro-pop career in 2008 when, after a life changing spinal injury left her unable to pursue her dancing career, she decided to turn to music as a creative outlet. Uncouth it may be to suggest that such a tragedy was a blessing in disguise, but Fabricius has certainly found a new home in her musical guise, Oh Land, and with two albums already under her belt – 2008’s Fauna and her self-titled 2011 effort – and now a third that goes by the name of Wish Bone.
What becomes apparent from the very opening seconds of Wish Bone is that this is music crafted by an unconventional artist. Bird In An Aeroplane is the perfect introduction, combining skittish beats with ethereal yet comfortingly earthy sounds to create something otherworldly. This is quickly subverted by the staunch pop beat of the album’s first single, Renaissance Girls, an addictively catchy number that calls to the modern, independent woman who wants to have their cake – and eat it. Elsewhere, numbers such a the left-field pop of My Boxer mixes Fabricius’ monotone delivery with background vocal harmonising over a fun yet murky R’n’B track that is reminiscent of something that Swedish-pop starlet Robyn would throw up. On paper it sounds like an absolute mess, but it completely works, leading seamlessly into Love A Man Dead – a less brash counterpart to its predecessor that combines droning synths with clattering beats, with Fabricius waxing lyrical about an unsavoury man one cannot help but be compelled to.
Such a deviant approach to pop is completely subverted however, in the softer moments of the album, with a significant portion of Wish Bone being of opposing delicacy. Sleepy Town glitters darkly, whilst 3 Chances and the heart-wrenching Love You Better carry a subtle, delicate and folkish charm that truly tugs at the emotions of the listener. Despite two such clear paths of artistic endeavour, there is definitely some murky water amongst the treasures. Green Card, whilst most definitely being an interesting listen, almost feels like it does not know what it wants to be, incorporating robust beats with atmospheric variations on vocal. The same can be said for album closer First To Say Goodnight, which brings to mind circus imagery with the sounds Fabricius uses here; it is eclectic, yet with its strange beats it is something that cannot be warmed to, with Fabricius’ voice being the predominant factor that holds it all together.
It quickly becomes apparent that Oh Land lives in her… own land, such is the magically imaginative mental joyride that the sound of her songs conjure, whether it is the impish yet cutesy quality of Cherry On Top or the straightforwardly funky Pyromaniac.Yet every song on here feels like a natural progress for Fabricius following her 2011 self-titled album; each song is that little bit more quirky, crafted with attention to detail, but perhaps less care for the output of any contemporaries. Her collaboration in constructing the album with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek may have played a factor in Fabricius’ increased experimentality, but in Wish Bone she has made an album that, whilst not being quite the rounded gem, is a beautiful, rough diamond in its own right.