Album Review: Oh Pep! – I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You… (2018 LP)

Melbourne Duo Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs, known as Oh Pep!, are back again. Since they first met in a performing arts school in 2009, the girls have brought out two EPs, one full-length album, and concluded several international tours. Now the duo follow on from their critically acclaimed debut Stadium Cake with I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You…

With Hally on the guitar and vocals, and Emmerichs on the violin and mandolin, their advanced sound leaves no question that the pair are as highly dedicated to their instruments as they are their lyrical splendour. The honest lyrics and the new-wave indie pop sound of the outfit might remind one of fellow Aussie singers Julia Jacklin or Angie McMahon. Though while Hally wrote most of the songs during her travels, it is Emmerichs’ unusual instrumentation that gives each song a special twist.

I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You… is a darker and more emotional version of their debut pop release. It kicks off with the single “25”. The intriguing mix of bass, violin, and Hally’s sweet voice, peaks in the hooky orchestral-like chorus “…holding heavy hands with heavy hearts”. The catchy guitar melodies of acoustically orientated songs like “Up Against the World” and “There Would Be a Riot” draw analogies to Ed Sheeran’s earlier work, but Emmerichs’ violin gives each song an individual and artful touch. Olivia Hally proves her skill for refined song writing and story telling on tear-drawing ballads, like “Parallel” and shines especially on “Hurt Nobody”, a melancholic track written during a storm in Manhattan. The minimalistic background music accentuates her angelic vocals as she sings “I’m coming undone / I don’t wanna hurt nobody”.

Oh Pep! doesn’t just serve the melancholic indie lovers, but also delivers music in cheery pop manner. “What’s The Deal With David” could not be catchier. The upbeat track tells the story of two excited best friends chatting about boys, underlain with highly danceable synthesiser tunes.

Even as a sceptic of modern day pop music, I was enthralled by Oh Pep!’s sound. “Your Nail And Your Hammer” is the perfect fusion of folk song and pop elements. And as I write this, I am still quietly humming the lyrics “Bang bang to the beat of my heart / break it with your hammer”.

Hally’s voice is a force on its own; she easily slips into a dreamy falsetto and falls back to her silky smooth singing voice. The girls give the genre pop a new edge by adding in some art-folk and indie elements and the outcome is a truly impressive LP. The spinning, hum-along melodies effortlessly go along with the well-crafted song writing, which is refreshingly relatable. Struggles with unresolved relationships, bittersweet heartache and coming of age resonate with most of us. Hally and Emmerichs package existential and witty lyrics with unique instrumentation, making I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You.., not only a musically entertaining record, but a deeply personal experience.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You… is out now.

Oh Pep! is currently on tour in the US and Europe, but will return to Australia next month for festival appearances at Fairgrounds and Queenscliff. Check out the full run of shows below and for full details see ohpep.com.

Nov 02 – Supersonic – Paris, France+
Nov 03 – Botanique – Brussels, Belgium+
Nov 04 – MTC – Cologne, Germany+
Nov 05 – Paradiso – Amsterdam, Netherlands+
Nov 07 – Molotow – Hamburg, Germany+
Nov 08 – Ideal Bar – Copenhagen, Denmark+
Nov 09 – Kantine am Berghain – Berlin, Germany+
Nov 11 – Chelsea Club – Vienna, Austria+
Nov 13 – Kranhalle – Munich, Germany+
Nov 14 – Mascotte – Zurich, Switzerland+
Nov 16th – The Islington, London, UK
Nov 24th – Queenscliff Festival, Queenscliff, VIC
Nov 30 – Fairgrounds Festival – Berry, NSW
Dec 1 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Dec 8 – The Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Dec 14 – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, S.A
Dec 15 – Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle, W.A
Dec 16 – Four5Nine Bar, Perth, W.A
Jan 11 – The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Jan 19 – Ocean Sounds Festival, VIC
Feb 25 – Barboza – Seattle, WA
Feb 26 – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR
Feb 28th – Noisepop Festival, San Francisco, CA
Mar 1 – The Moroccan Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
Mar 2 – Club Congress – Tuscon, AZ
Mar 5 – Stubbs – Austin, TX
Mar 6 – Three Links – Dallas, TX
Mar 8 – The High Watt – Nashville, TN
Mar 9 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
Mar 10 – The Pinhook – Durham, NC
Mar 15 – Great Scott – Allston, MA
Mar 20 – El Club – Detroit, MI
Mar 21 – Schuba’s – Chicago, IL
Mar 22 – Back Room at Colectivo Coffee – Milwaukee, WI
Mar 23 – 7th St. Entry – Minneapolis, MN
Mar 24 – The Raccoon Motel – Davenport, IA
Mar 25 – Reverb – Omaha, NE

*with Gregory Alan Isakov
+with Middle Kids

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