Review Summary: Oh the things I would do....
I would do terrible, terrible things to Lisa Mitchell. Ravish her from head to toe and then book a trip back again. Or at least, I would try. Because, and lets be frank here, no one should be allowed to be this cute. No one. But I can tell how this is going to play out. I’d have her cornered, hot breath and pattering heart inside, and she’d just be there
with this glint in her eye and begin to hum the opening melody of “Neopolitan Dreams”. And I would melt. Plop. Gone. And I’d stare up at her from the puddle of water I’d have become, ‘cause that’s all that would be left of me. Meanwhile, dear Lisa would skip right over, hop back on the flowery bicycle she came here on and ride away into some magic forest where bears talk and record reviews don’t begin with odd sexual fantasies. After all, taking a spin through Wonder
its easy enough to believe that this is exactly the world in which Mitchell lives in, a universe of folky pop where the mornings are always beautiful, where love blossoms among the bright whirl of a coin laundry and where everyone – absolutely everyone – needs a sidekick.
It’s triviality at its most lighthearted, breezily skipping in between the snapshots of life as painted by Mitchell’s watercolor, childlike voice. All this said, what really sets Wonder
apart from other cutesy-pop records in it’s spectrum is the way it manages to avoid falling into a sickly sweet trap of embellished overproduction, and instead allowing Mitchell’s gorgeous voice to take centre stage and fill the gaps. With simple brushes of lightly strummed lightly strummed guitars, occasional touches of piano, and simple one-two beats covering almost all of the instrumental work here, it’s an album that is organic as it is spontaneous, bouncing from song to song with an ease that perfectly compliments Wonder’s airy, effortless attitude. Tracks like the adorably optimistic “Neopolitan Dreams” or the heartwarming “Coin Laundry” are powerful simply because they never force themselves to give anything away, and instead suck listeners in with their simple and wistful melodies. Those looking for familiar ground might even recognize the bubbly “Red Wine Lips” as a twice removed cousin of Feist’s massively successful “1234”. In fact, listen hard enough, and Wonder
pretty much comes off as the rest of the lonely numbers that Feist never really got round to singing out.
There’s a certain magic too, in the way that Mitchell never actually sounds like she’s ever singing to you, but rather at some hidden third party caught between the veil of the album and listener, leaving you high and dry as she throws her dazzling self at this unseen stranger – when she sings as she does on “Clean White Love”: ‘Wisk me away/ Ill be yours for a day/ In heavenly fields we can roam’, it’s almost a tease to pierce it through, calling out, without ever actually calling out to anyone in particular. And it’s not all rainbows and unicorns either, with songs like “LoveLetter” and “Pirouette” both of which drip with the genuine heaviness of emotion: ‘Pirouette, single step, won’t you spin me round the room like a marionette? /Lonely nights drove; spin me real slow, I just need something to get me through the thick of it’. But none of this even touches the crown above it all, as Wonder
’s final gem in its collection shines the brightest, with “Valium”’s stunningly evocative piano balladry plucking at deepest wells of emotion that it can conjures, as Mitchell harps beautifully about the age old question of ‘why are we here?’. At any rate, Wonder
’s own existence is an achingly simple one, but with nothing to weigh it down and with every reason to stay afloat above a sea of mediocre folk-pop, it’s still one that’ll have people like me wanting to do… things.