As you grow up, the world loses some colour. If this sentiment rings true to you, but you’re ready to heal your inner child with vibrant indie pop, oh caroline’s monochrome is beckoning.
Originally composed of Winnipeg’s Lhasa Petik and Boston’s William Breeuwsma (of Towerz), oh caroline’s debut album welcomes Hanz’s Thomas Bråttvik to the mix — a chill-hop extraordinaire known for crafting lush, atmospheric beats. This collaboration merges the multi-genre specialities of the international trio into a coming-of-age soundtrack that’s anything but black and white. Teeming with tenderness and wonder, monochrome sounds like driving through the back roads of your hometown with your head out the window, just to feel the full force of something; to awaken and let go.
Throughout the journey, Breeuwsma and Bråttvik masterfully blend warm, familiar folk acoustics with experimental pop beats to create soundscapes worth getting lost in. Infused with Patik’s beguiling vocals and poetic reflections, monochrome simultaneously transcends the boundaries of genre and shrinks us all down to size: synthesizing the human experience of looking at adolescence in the rearview.
Wasting no time, the album’s lead track, “Dizzy,” confronts nostalgia at its wistful core. Atop a symphony of twirling electronic pop sounds that twinkle like starry eyes, Patik proclaims matter-of-factly: “If I was a child / I’d do things better.” Ramping up the melancholy, “Wisdom Teeth” goes on to grapple with the inevitability of (growing) pain amidst gentle strings and keys. “My dentist, he told me I might have to take out my wisdom teeth / But I don’t think I can afford to lose any more parts of me,” Patik croons, soft and bittersweet.
Exactly halfway through, monochrome’s title track lets the light in — parting the clouds so it may pierce through the rain. Birds literally chirp (perhaps a tad on the nose, but the sonic metaphor does its job), the beat bops and sways, and all worries and fears evaporate in a heartwarming haze. “It’s nothing serious,” Patik insists of an afternoon spent “lost in the covers / Breathing in all of the colours.” It’s the moment that begs us to throw our hands in the air, like we just don’t have it in ourselves anymore to dismiss the simple pleasures in our lives; to trudge beneath the gloom of growing up when we could be dancing above the clouds.
The rest of the album ebbs and flows through diary-like meditations and liberating epiphanies in the pursuit of life unbound. Delivering fuller, more dimensional melodies than their 2022 EP, hour glass, monochrome sees oh caroline debut a maturing sound and poignant perspective that’s aglow with possibility. Have a listen, it makes everything feel miraculous.