By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
While a majority of pop artists and groups are eaten up by the masses, there still remains a percentage of people who view it with disdain. However, there are the occasional artists who manage to win over those people’s hearts. With their fourth studio album, the pop-rock quintet OneRepublic attempt to push the boundaries of the radio clichés and soar their way to stardom. From their mid ’00s hit single “Apologize” to 2013’s chart topper “Counting Stars,” the group has a decade of experience and millions of fans at their whim. “Oh My My” lives up to the precedent the band has set up for itself and delivers in being both innovative and appealing and will please even the least-likely candidates.
To those familiar with the velvety pianos and strings that has littered the band’s previous release, “Native,” it’s no surprise that “Oh My My” relies heavily on organic instrumentation. Conventional pop production and synthesized accompaniment is still plentiful and rarely leaves the members’ respective talents in the shadows.
Opener “Let’s Hurt Tonight” kicks in with singer Ryan Tedder belting his powerhouse of a voice over the strum of acoustic guitar courtesy of the band’s guitarist Zach Filkins. The choruses are bombastic with a mix of high-end piano plinking, bass booms and Tedder’s lush falsetto.
The funky driving force of bassist Brent Kutzle’s electric tone steals the show on the title track, creating a vibrant disco atmosphere throughout the chorus. Layers of intricate vocal filters and thick synthesizers add to the dimensions of awe-inspiring wonders.
With beautiful and spacey keyboard arpeggios, Peter Gabriel of legendary progressive-rock group, Genesis, features on “A.I.” “I just want your love automatic, artificial intelligence,” he says. This track is resonant of the band’s acoustic beginnings and influences, while still being electronic and beat-heavy. “NbHD,” featuring singer Santigold, blurs the lines of disco, pop and even rhythm and blues throughout the interstellar production. Santigold’s higher range meshes with Tedder’s already heightened vocals and creates an earworm of a bridge.
“Better” delivers a dubstep-esque beat, merging the ambiance and buoyancy of Twenty One Pilots with the dancey synth solos of M83 as Tedder claims he’s “never boring.” The folk and gospel influences on “Choke” highlight a backup choir with stripped-down production crisp enough to evoke feelings of being in church.
Closing out the album is “Heaven,” showcasing bouncy, staccato keyboards, pads and the snare talents of drummer Eddie Fisher, coupled with the infectious repeating hook of “This is heaven, yeah.”
“Oh My My” will surely have fans saying that exact exclamation. OneRepublic does not reinvent the backbone of pop or rock by any measure. It does, however, take all of the best qualities of pop and adds new life into them. “Oh My My” shows that OneRepublic has no issues transcending a handful of genres, and it adds a particular level of musicianship and light-hearted fun behind what they release. Prepare to sing, bounce and even bring out the disco moves.