The sophomore release from Aussie folk-pop duo Oh Pep! is irresistable pop bolstered by the pair’s talented musicianship. Olivia Hally, who plays guitar and sings, and Pepita Emmerichs, who masters both fiddle and mandolin, met while attending a performing arts high school in Melbourne nearly a decade ago, and they could easily have had careers as studio musicians. But, instead, they write pop songs—some of the year’s best at that.
On I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You…, Oh Pep! seem to take cues from both Taylor Swift’s 1989 and First Aid Kit’s The Lion’s Roar, the latter an obvious comparison considering both FAK and Oh Pep! are female folk duos. But Oh Pep! exist in a sphere all their own: Songs like “Your Nail And Your Hammer” recall Swift’s sparkling pop production while also playing up First Aid Kit-worthy bluegrass sounds and lyrical metaphors. “Cold little heart breaks apart with your nail and your hammer,” Hally sings.
The album’s opening ballad, “25,” is an ode to every pop song that has ever relied on strings to stir up emotion, and Oh Pep! do it better than most. Their version of violin-backed pop music rivals a Broadway duet in its ability simultaneously to tell a story and deliver a breezy melody. Hally’s soprano is stunning as she sings, “If I stare in one place for more than three seconds / I come down and my heartbeat lessens.”
“Asking For,” second in the tracklisting, belongs on a romantic comedy soundtrack—in a good way. As when Andrea frolicked through Paris to the tune of U2’s “City Of Blinding Lights” in The Devil Wears Prada, or when Jane did some mad scheming to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Who Knows?” in 27 Dresses, Oh Pep!’s dreamy-yet-ferocious “Asking For” is primed for the screen. It’s easy to imagine a jean-jacket-clad protagonist reaching cinematic self-actualization as Olivia and Pepita croon “I guess I could just stay here and whistle away my fear” over glistening acoustic pop. However, Oh Pep! swerve away from the saccharine: Unlike many rom-com soundtracks, there’s nothing cheesy about this duo’s sweeping arrangements, the boldest of which is single “What’s The Deal With David?,” an electric song so ridiculously fun you might feel the urge to choreograph a dance routine. They effortlessly capture that heart-beating-out-chest feeling so familiar to a new potential relationship, and make the anthem feel more like a phone call between friends than anything else. “You were smiling every time the phone rings,” Hally sings.
From their ode to rock bottom on “Hurt Nobody,” to their tremendously fun tribute to girl-gabbing on “What’s The Deal With David?,” Oh Pep! cover a scope of emotion on I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You…, that’s part breakup album and part coming-of-age opus.