Review: OneRepublic - 'Oh My My' (Deluxe Edition)
Thankfully, US pop/rock band OneRepublic’s fourth studio album ‘Oh My My’ stops itself from sounding like an extended playlist of the same song regurgitated again and again.
At its best, ’Oh My My’ successfully breaks through and challenges expectations of what the group can offer musically.
Admittedly, individually a some of the songs struggle for visibility - the worst would fall under the constantly-dazzling, ever-changing pop music landscape pretty quickly. But together the tunes add up to form a worthy, listenable, varied playlist of pop, rock (and beyond) efforts.
While the new record has no ‘Counting Stars’ type hits, OneRepublic’s lead singer and prolific songwriter Ryan Tedder’s soothing vocal uplifts the whole project. Plus - for the most part - each one of the songs brings something new to the table.
For appearing on their recently released fourth studio album ‘Ibifornia’, French dance duo Cassius repay Tedder by showing up on the LP’s title track.
With an arms wide open disposition and a sunny, soaring hook, ‘Kids’ stands tall at the front end of the track-list. ‘Dream’ gets a little more intense with rabid, stamping beats and edgy guitar phrases.
Pop/rock maestro Peter Gabriel makes an appearance on ‘A.I.’. The track meanders a little, however, Gabriel’s wizardry is all over it. The track’s hard-to-resist 80’s synth undercurrent outshines a cosmic guitar breakdown to become the song’s centrepiece and main attraction.
‘Better’ finds the boys playing around with hot-right-now dub/reggae elements. The chirpy, carefree quirk of the tune is admirable and is highlighted further on the Deluxe Edition’s ‘String Version’. Still, ‘Better’ holds no enduring appeal and often impacts as throwaway. But like Tedder himself sings on the track - it least ‘Better’ isn’t boring.
The sound of Indian music instruments feature within the backdrop of ‘Born’, and that may the most noteworthy thing about the cut. That being said, ‘Born’ descends intriguingly into a reverb-laden, droning mesh at its end.
Sprinkled with mysterious, otherworldly production tricks, Tedder’s falsetto goes in for the kill on memorable ballad ‘Fingertips’. The track glows with a sense of atmosphere and flickers enticingly with depth - it’s a grower.
Like many of the album’s most absorbing moments, ‘Human’ steps away from what is generally expected from a OneRepublic song.
Driven by fast-paced, alternative beats, the song is light, charming and digestible. Lyrically, it explores the more undesirable aspects of the human experience from a philosophical point of view.
On paper, a collaboration between OneRepublic and US alt-pop star Santigold is mouth-watering, however ’NbHD’, which features both, sadly underwhelms.
Santigold’s musical idiosyncrasies don’t influence the tune in any big way. Still, with its robust beat-work, the song is a mighty call-to-arms and hard to ignore.
Hinting at something sexier, the dangerous, vibey electronica of ’Wherever I Go’ is a high point - and the track just grows in confidence as it plays out.
Like much of the LP, ’All These Things’ is relationship focused, however this number stands out because it’s moodier, more stylish and a bit enigmatic - it quickly offers up another side to the band.
Adorned in a light, contemporary sound, ‘Heaven’ is a another of the album’s grand, ambitious pop offerings.
However in this case, the tune’s expansive hook doesn’t completely separate it from the rest of ‘Oh My My’. Surely there have been better versions of this tune in and around the charts over the last year or so?
Bonus track ‘Colors’ is a dreamy, large-scale love song - its warm, unhurried pace makes it an unassuming scene setter.
'Colors' is out shined by other bonus cut ’The Less I Know’ though. Peppered with endearing country elements, 'The Less I Know' and makes good use of a swift, sweeping momentum. The song’s unpretentious lyrics, a devoted vocal performance from Tedder, as well as layers of memorable harmonies further enhance it’s charge.