Oh No Ono describe themselves as “experimental pop,” a simplistic summation
that is a fairly accurate description of the Danish band’s carnival of sound.
Twee-inflected, nasal vocals ala Mew or Figurines flit over an eclectic mélange
of instruments, referencing sources including raga-fixated Beatles, 1960s
psyche-pop, and driving power-pop. It’s all very cute, but it’s all very interesting.
The band’s domestic debut, Eggs, begins with the spacious and airy “Eleanor Speaks,” a
mid-tempo psychedelic rocker augmented by warped Bollywood violins. “Icicles”
also utilizes a good amount of orchestration, this time conveying a chamber-pop
atmosphere with staccato stabs of overlapping strings providing a foundation
for playful call-and-response vocals. Just when the band seems about to take an
Animal Collective leap into the void, the track is reined in with a poppy Billy
Joel-style bouncy breakdown. In other words, Oh No Ono veers titillatingly
close to the edge of obscurity, but roots its sound in recognizable and
satisfying pop structure. This is especially evident on “Helplessly Young,” one
of the more conventional but effective tracks on the album.
As “The Wave Ballet” begins, a multi-tiered vocal chorus
that the band recorded in an old Danish church swelling from the speakers, one
begins to wonder if Oh No Ono is about to venture into a slightly too
self-serious realm. Thankfully, the song quickly switches pace back to another
half-creepy, fully innovative experimental pop tune. Once again, Oh No Ono
seems ready to attempt any idea that strikes their fancy, sometimes several
within the course of one song. But the band always knows how to bring their
ideas back into a satisfying, if surreal, anti-formula of engaging songwriting.
Standout Tracks: “Icicles,”
“Helplessly Young” JONAH FLICKER