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.