Album of the Week: Oh Wonder – 22 Make

By Theerada Moonsiri (She/her/hers)

A year after the release of 22 Break, the ‘happy’ part of Oh Wonder’s double album, 22 Make, finally graced our ears last Friday.

London-based alt-pop duo and real-life couple Oh Wonder – consisting of Anthony Vander West and Josephine Vander West – released their fifth studio album, 22 Make, a record full of love and heartwarming spirit that inspires us with their ‘make up’ story and marriage.

This album is the second half of the British duo’s 22 double album project, where the first half dubbed 22 Break reflects their (almost) ‘break up’ story during the pandemic, whereas 22 Make is “where hope, nostalgia and love triumph,” Oh Wonder shared.

Made up of 11 tracks, the album begins with ‘22 Make,’ a flip-side to their ‘22 Break’ from the previous album. The song talks about how they’d rather be with and fight for each other through thick and thin than give up and drift apart. ‘22 Make’ indeed serves as a moving and hope-filled opener to the album.

Before the album was released last Friday, 22 Make was originally set to release in July. The duo shared that they were frustrated since the “vinyl won’t be manufactured and ready until October.” Instead of releasing 22 Make on the digital platforms without the vinyl, Oh Wonder – honouring how much this record means to them and their marriage – decided to release it just last Friday (7 October), which is exactly one year after 22 Break first hit our ears.

During their last UK tour in Glasgow this past April, Oh Wonder played a couple of songs from 22 Make, including ‘Magnificent’ and ‘Fuck It I Love You’. Written right after their wedding in July last year, ‘Magnificent’ sounds truly magical and personal as the duo described that the song is about “realising that if we’d never met each other, we’d just be strangers.”

As for ‘Fuck It I Love You,’ the song is filled with happiness and unapologetic energy. It’s one of those songs that effortlessly take you to the highest; I love the adrenaline rush where the violin builds up the anticipation to the last chorus. This upbeat track is definitely made to enjoy live, and it did excel at the gig.

‘True Romance’ and ‘Apollo’ are probably the tracks that remind me of Oh Wonder’s previous hits like ‘Drive’, from their 2015 self-titled album and ‘Better Now’, from their 2020 No One Else Can Wear Your Crown.

‘Little Tigers’ and ‘365’ are more of a slow burn to me as they start pretty mellow but turn out to be undoubtedly powerful in the end.

‘Sweet Disaster’ must be the most favourite of mine. As the song goes, “Five, six, hold me faster, paradise hits like a roller coaster ride,” your body would demand you to stop what you’re doing and just dance to the cheeky drop during the chorus. This also applies to ‘Stop Waiting’ which properly had me on the ground.

The album concludes with ‘Say Something,’ a heavily meaningful track that hits close to home as the duo sings “Hey you, yeah you, hey you, hey, are you really livin’?”

For a big fan of not only Oh Wonder’s music but also of Anthony and Josephine as people, 22 Make is a very special album to me. It’s a privilege to have seen the couple grow and navigate their way through life, making music and doing what they love. And after all these years, music keeps them together and helps them overcome one of the most fragile, challenging times of their relationship. It takes Two to Make, and it’s a happy ending, indeed.

22 Make was released on Universal Music Group and Island Records on October 7, 2022 and you can check it out here.

Pitched by Theerada Moonsiri & Danny Munro
Edited by Danny Munro