In 2007, OneRepublic released their first album, Dreaming Out Loud. On it was the world-wide hit “Apologize,” which catapulted the band to stardom. Now, almost 10 years later, the group has just released their fourth (and best) full-length album.
Frontman Ryan Tedder is known to be somewhat of a songwriting guru. Listed in Rolling Stone as a “songwriting ace,” he has written and co-written hits like Beyonce’s “Halo,” Ellie Goulding’s “Burn,” Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York,” and Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love.” It comes as no surprise that this new release is well-written.
Oh My My is OneRepublic’s most diverse-sounding album to date. Spearheaded by Tedder and bassist Brent Kutzle, it strays from the top-40s, radio-inspired hits OneRepublic has become known for over the last several years — such as the insanely catchy “Counting Stars” — and instead illustrates how fluidly the group can transition from genre to genre.
As written by Entertainment Weekly, Tedder has stated in interviews that the album was designed in the same way a listener would create a playlist: without commitment to a singular genre. From electro-funk, to gospel, to rock, to synth-pop, Oh My My has something for everyone.
The album begins with “Let’s Hurt Tonight,” a refreshing and minimally produced number. The opening acoustic guitar strum adds a raw and natural feel, allowing for the classic Tedder-belted chorus to take its full effect without distraction.
This track is most reminiscent of the band’s last album, Native. As such, it provides a gateway into the rest of Oh My My, reminding the listener of the OneRepublic they love, while simultaneously allowing the band to diverge from their traditional sound without deterring fans. It was a smart move to put this track first on the album.
The third song, “Oh My My,” is where the group starts to depart from the familiar and venture into new genre territory. The title track features French musical duo Cassius and takes on a European discotheque-inspired electro-funk vibe, showcasing a danceable bassline beat.
“Choke,” the sixth track on the album, is a beautifully emotional piece, and my favorite. Gospel-inspired, it begins simply, featuring only a piano and Tedder’s vocals. The lyrics describe a profound feeling of loss: “Well, I can see breakfast on the table / And I can smell you in the halls / Lord knows I’d cry if I was able / But that won’t get me through tomorrow.”
The song builds with a choir, adding a powerful element that tugs on the heart strings. What was previously a production-focused album, filled with synth-pop from the likes of “Kids” and electric guitar and vocal distortion on “Dream,” becomes a vocal powerhouse and impassioned force.
“A.I.” is another striking track, co-written and co-recorded by the legendary Peter Gabriel. With an ’80s-esque backtrack and a make-me-want-to-get-up-and-dance chorus, it’s pure fun to hear Tedder and Gabriel trade off verses. The song also includes a one-and-a-half-minute long, space-like outro created by Gabriel. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tedder describes the “beautiful, very-Peter Gabriel outro that will send shivers down your spine,” as his favorite part of the album.
The best part of Oh My My is that it’s versatile. It encapsulates an energizing sense of anonymity — at times I forget that I’m listening to OneRepublic, yet I’m concurrently excited about the unexpected that comes with each song. It’s an album of earnest exploration. From the Imogen Heap-like chorus breakdown in “Human” to the wonderfully produced “NBhD” featuring Santigold, Oh My My kept me engaged throughout its whopping 16 tracks. I’m looking forward to seeing several of those tracks climb the charts in the near future.
OneRepublic will be at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on October 22nd. For more information, please visit the band’s website.