The Oh Hellos are a sonic children’s novel—a narrative, painting page-size pictures of dipping valleys and villainous creatures veiling their vestiges in the dark. They are illustrators of sound. Whisking together the colloquial concepts of collecting their father’s coins and combing through caves of truth to lift their bones in catharsis. Riddled with theology without ever becoming too spiritual and overly-preachy, The Oh Hellos, comprised of Maggie and Tyler Heath, along with a slew of their talented friends, are as intoxicating as they are soberingly energetic. And although I’m not quite certain which of the brother/sister duo is the sonic cartographer, you can be certain that regardless of who maps out the first auditory destination, the song will always be finished by them together.
To boot, their melodies always play like soft campfire songs. With concepts based on hearts that rattle in their cages for protection, orphaned protagonist’s and their wind filled lungs. Their lyrical journey teeters on the edge of a child-like fascination of simple pleasures and a deep prophetic understanding of life. If you listen intently enough, you can hear how they sway between them in a single stanza: “Climbing trees, like we did when we were children / scaling walls, the walls that took us years to build”
Their most recent release, Dear Wormwood (2015), which they appropriately borrowed from C.S Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, is an unconventional concept album that tells a broken story of an abusive and fleeting relationship through letters from the victim. In it, Tyler and Maggie once again make note of their scruples about change, wicked temptation, and in their daintiest moments, that “there is beauty in the way of things”. Left with hardly any room to breathe, the album is layered much like how they pile on stage— because they’re one uniform away from being an army. However, as long as the floor doesn’t collapse from under five-hundred stomping feet, the 8+ band members only doubles down on validation, and ultimately gives the show its wings. So in those last closing moments, Maggie will grab at her shirt and twist her hands and together they’ll thank the crowd for the overwhelming applause. They’ll blink those wide eyes at all the strangers screaming for one, two, three more songs. And they’ll play four.
The Oh Hellos are playing with Shakey Graves on Wednesday night (11/11) at Terminal 5.