The trio known as Oh Caroline is back with their latest album Monochrome. The combined international talents of William Breeuwsma Towerz, Lhasa Petik, and Thomas Bråttvik Hans come together forming a cohesive unit on Monochrome. Each member plays to their strengths making for a more polished sound while still keeping the rawness of the early days. Hans being the newest addition to the group has helped Oh Caroline go from a lo-fi folk duo to a more pop-centric trio by including lush electronic elements. With Monochrome, Oh Caroline wants to take listeners to a simpler time like enjoying the autumn season during your childhood.
Monochrome begins with the dazzling track “Dizzy”. The track is wonderful with Petik’s soft-spoken words and vibrant instrumentation that perfectly sets the tone of what the rest of the album will consist of. Oh Caroline knew have it being the intro track was a good move stating, “Being the first track created as a trio, “Dizzy” seemed like the perfect way to introduce our new sound to the world. “Dizzy” tells the tale of a spiral into isolation and loss when entering adulthood. The track serves as a reminder of how unforgiving time can be while celebrating the joy and pain that come with platonic love.
The next track “Skin and Bones” is an experience that illustrates the growth Oh Caroline has shown by being electronic-heavy. Petik’s vocals are distorted and the rhythm of the percussion allows you to get lost. But once the instruments are lowered, it allows her words to have more impact; “Time stands still, as we walked through the winter. But shit got real, as our skins got thinner.” The instrumental ramps up allowing listeners to zone out before fading away. The track feels like it comes and goes quickly but it’s actually not a short song. Similarly, “Long Way Home” also has an “I don’t really care” attitude found on “Skin and Bones”. Instantly has a bouncy lo-fi dance vibe going, it’s an optimistic tune capturing the essence of taking a scenic route and taking a moment to enjoy the simple things in life. Like reaching a mountaintop, listeners can praise the singing echoes “I’m Home”.
The album’s titled track, “Monochrome” features the band’s friend Scayos. While the title may sound bleak, the track itself bursts with warm energy like an anthem to cherish every moment from the wild nights to cozy days lounging in bed. Days we might have forgotten but they are always with us engraved in our souls. “Monochrome” production is beautiful with lush synths and drum pads with a catchy chorus creating fuzzy euphoric manta that repeats in the chorus “it’s not that serious”.
Two of my favorite songs on Monochrome are “Second Chances” and “Much” featuring Spencer Hunt. “Second Chances” is a hip tune reminiscent of younger days and truly believing in giving second opportunities as long as the mood is right and leading to adventures, like taking a youthful drive around the city and feeling invincible. “Much” in a similar vein has a certain swagger in its delivery. The upbeat tempo is a nice contrast to lyrics that convey uncertainty, “I don’t really need much. Just asking for some love and a little bit of trust. No need to be great, I just want to be enough. I just want to be enough”.
Oh Caroline succeeds in transporting listeners to a simpler time. The emotional journey Monochrome provides is one of balance. The lyrics are catchy yet have meaning while the instrumentation is hypnotic creating a meditative state that allows listeners to reflect. Take a moment to appreciate your own growth. Some tunes allow you to dance along and reminiscent on your younger days and others can be slower acoustic tracks making you wonder where time has gone. But the entire message is to enjoy yourself when you can. Just like Oh Caroline states on “Monochrome,” it’s not that serious.