WishboneSince recording her occasionally twee, but consistently charming self- titled debut from 2011, Danish electronic pop singer-songwriter Oh Land has been listening to a lot of rap and the influences of this genre can be heard all over the tight and tough follow up,” Wishbone”. The stark, attention-seeking cover portrait alone projects enough star power to confirm that Nanna Ohland Fabricius means business this time; just try not to stare at it. Along with the recruitment of David Sitek, TV on the Radio member and fast becoming the most inspired alt-pop producer to emerge after the last couple of years (Beck, Beady Eye, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and CSS), the promise of something both unexpected and immediately compelling is met almost without exception.

“Wishbone” is Oh Land’s declaration of change and of the strength required to achieve it. Many of the songs use fighting or violent metaphors to get the message across, but are then off set against lush, warm restorative retreats. Album opener “Bird in An Aeroplane” is a strange, weary-sounding minor key, synth pile-up; it’s also a very good pop song but not fully realised on first listen. Like some of Sitek’s other productions, the fun is unravelling and exposing a song’s real intentions, which can sometimes take time. At the other end of the spectrum, “Renaissance Girls” furiously changes the tone with its scatty mania and staccato melody, Oh Land dazzling with exuberant vocals. It’s one of the most self-possessed pop songs of the year.

Love a Man Dead”, “Kill My Darling” and, in particular, “My Boxer”, which sees Oh Land reunite with producer Dan Carey (MIA, Bat For Lashes and Kylie), form a trilogy of sorts of part-rapped, part-sung concise muscular electro pop tracks. David Sitek again changing musical tack with “Pyromaniac” which is loose and funky and with its celebratory woo-hoo’s is The Cardigan’s classic “Lovefool”’s older sister. The twinkling “Sleepy Town” and doomy, two note piano chime of “Next Summer “(‘Put me to sleep and don’t wake me up, until time has changed please let’s fast forward the clock’), both topped with deceptively sweet vocals, successfully take the theme of small town resentment and boredom into mid tempo territory along with the finger snapping r’n’b of “Cherry On Top”.

Green Card” is a majestic, rolling Sia co-write and is a success of proportion and restraint; trumpets swell and Oh Land’s elaborate vocals demonstrate the skill and versatility of her vision and talent. The wheezy and dilapidated electronics on album closer “First to Say Goodnight” mimic more than anywhere else here the overall sonic atmosphere of Sitek’s successful collaboration with Scarlett Johansson on her album of Tom Waits covers “Anywhere I Lay My Head”. Where Johansson’s voice was never much more than a remote smudge or drawl, Oh Land’s clear and intimate vocals pull you much closer to the sentiment and sound beautiful alongside the ornate, drunken musicbox soundtrack.

Robyn, Lykke Li, Dragonette and Annie make vivid, revered and, to many, cultish pop music of various shades. Oh Land, like several similar acts, has been on the periphery of this greatness for a little while now but “Wishbone” sees her nudge her way into this very special group with an album that, in addition to cementing her own unique identity, is a delirious and thoughtful collection of pop beauty.

Product DetailsThis is only Dragonette’s third album but they’ve been around for some time now.  Their debut “Galore” was released in 2007 and the excellent follow-up “Fixin’ to Thrill” was released 3 years ago. This Canadian band have to yet to find mainstream success (other than their collaboration with Martin Solveig on last year’s ubiquitous dance floor hit “Hello”) with their wonky, imaginative pop but are respected and have become somewhat of an influence for the current generation of electro pop ladies (Nicole Roberts, Little Boots) and even Madonna whose recent “Turn On The Radio” is a poor cousin to “Hello”.

Not that much has changed between albums for the band other than “Body Parts” is completely 100% electronic (no children’s choirs, trumpets or banjos this time around) and maybe some of the specialness that Dragonette most definitely possess has been flattened out in the process. “Run, Run, Run” is a successful attempt at a minor key, stadium anthem and opens the album with an elegant confidence. “Live In This City” is as typical Dragonette as you can get and “Let It Go” resembles but doesn’t match the huge aforementioned “Hello”. So the first half of this album is solid, but sadly no longer sets Dragonette apart from what could now be considered their peers. Things do become more interesting in the second half however;  fittingly frantic “My Legs” is the boisterous tale of Martina Sorbara’s  disobedient lallies (‘I try to wash my face but my legs say put on make-up!’) and is completely brilliant, “Right Woman” has just the right pinch of sleaze and persuasion and “Giddy Up” hysterically goes a bit too far. These tracks all posses those grains of magic that were first in evidence in early tracks such as “Black Limousine” and “Take It like A Man”. Closing synth ballad “Ghost” is certainly nice and the glam stomp of “My Work Is Done” does pack a wallop but in a pretty derivative way.

“Body Parts” may be the result of Dragonette wanting to make an album that has more of an overall, cohesive structure and sound compared to their previous album “Fixin’ To Thrill” where almost every song had its own personality and was part of its own musical world but as a whole hung also together beautifully.  By doing this we end up with an album that admittedly has no lows but also deprives itself from any of the massive highs. Interestingly the fifth track here, the appropriately named “Lay Low”, which fails to assert itself within the oddly sequenced track listing, is one of the best songs they’ve ever written (Dragonette write and sometimes produce their own material, increasingly unusual in the modern pop genre); a mid tempo, wistful and multi-textured track with its clever ‘twist me in your tornado’ hook which seductively sinks its claws in; it’s a song that I almost overlooked. I’m hoping, then, that maybe this album will prove that it’s more of a slow burner than its predecessors and with patience could prove to have more longevity than their more instantly gratifying earlier material. Let’s hope so because I still love having them around.