Australian band Oh Pep! released their sophomore album, I Wasn’t Only Thinking of You…, on October 26th, establishing them as a name to watch in folk-pop scene. With soaring vocal performances and crisp, satisfying folk arrangements, I Wasn’t Only Thinking of You proves enthusiastic and ultimately uplifting in the face of the turmoil that comes with relationships, both romantic and platonic.
The second track, “Asking For” establishes Oh Pep!’s increasing focus on acoustic folk-heavy music more in the vein of their pared down live performances. While their debut album, Stadium Cake certainly featured a good deal of acoustic instrumentation, the studio was also a much more prominent “instrument”. The band finds a great deal of success by pulling back, as the Hally’s dynamic vocals and observational lyrics as well as Pepita Emmerick’s excellent work on the mandolin are able to shine over a sparser musical accompaniment. Likewise, Oh Pep! makes excellent use of strings throughout the album, on songs like “Truths”, “Up Against the World”, and “Parallel”, adding a depth and a pang of melancholy to their songs without overcrowding the rest of the arrangement.
If there is one complaint to be made, it is that the album can be somewhat one-note at times, both musically and lyrically. Some additional texture, such as the bass part in the lead track, “25,” would have served to better differentiate one song from the next without damaging the album’s cohesion. The lack of musical nuance leads to a certain level of monotony, which fails to engage the listener through the heart of the album.
“Nail and Hammer”, which would have been well suited as the last track on the album, manages to find that additional texture. The buoyant acoustic arrangement, catchy chorus, and wonderfully complementary vocal parts from Hally and Emmerich bring distinctive immediacy and vitality to the song. Despite Oh Pep!’s indie status, “Nail and Hammer” has the feel of a radio hit, speaking to the bands range and talent.
Unfortunately, the album falls victim to a quiet, uninspiring final song, “There Would Be A Riot”. The song serves largely to dissipate much of the energy brought by “Nail and Hammer”, and does little to add a new dimension or perspective to the album. Had “Nail and Hammer” been the closer, it would have done much more to boost the energy and lasting feel of the album.
In a time of folk-pop’s ascendance, with acts like First Aid Kit, Angel Olsen and others finding success, Oh Pep! stands out as band similarly capable of reaching such a level acclaim. While I wasn’t Thinking Only of You… feels more like a step in the band’s development than a full-fledged breakout, it marks a clear step forward in the band’s evolution. The album’s gorgeous vocal performances, sing-along choruses, and sprightly melodies make for a gratifying listening experience.