OneRepublic’s ‘Oh My My’: Album Review

It’s jarring when you start doing the math. It’s been almost 10 years since OneRepublic’s “Apologize” hit the radio waves in 2007. Since then the pop band, led by famed songwriter and producer Ryan Tedder, has steadily increased its presence with epic radio hits that evoke U2 and Coldplay without going full-on arena rock. Despite the band’s, and Tedder’s, name recognition, it wasn’t until 2013’s Native that OneRepublic scored a platinum album.

As a songwriter, Tedder displays a heartening balance of the ethereal and earthly, where pretty melodies and heavy percussion come together. His contributions to the catalogs of today’s pop divas — Beyoncé’s “Halo,” Adele’s “Rumour Has It,” Ellie Goulding’s “Burn” — all display this mix of steady ease and grandiose percussion.

In that fashion is “Wherever I Go,” the lead single off the band’s new album Oh My My (out ). It’s one of the year’s underrated pop records, and it’s a different sound for the band. The chorus is quick-paced and mostly relies on keyboards over the countrified boom of “Counting Stars” and “Love Runs Out.”

So it’s a surprise that “Let’s Hurt Tonight” opens up the album. It’s a pop hymn, and however grand it is, it feels like an American Idol crowning song that could have gone to someone like Phillip Phillips. And yet, somehow, it works for these guys.

On Oh My My, it’s apparent that this crew is far from the band that started off in Colorado Springs, CO. The album was recorded at various locations including Sweden, Tokyo, Milan, Budapest, Berlin, Iceland – with a common thread of the UK. It’s almost as if they belong to the world somehow. And that bleeds into the feature choices. Cassius, the French-DJ-duo, wash over the title track with their signature Euro-pop bass lines. Peter Gabriel makes “A.I.” into a synthy dance-fest that has the band sounding uncharacteristically playful.

Even in their most derivative moments, OneRepublic punch in with gusto. “Kids” and its pulsing guitar and staccato vocal arrangement leave you reminiscing about indie-pop, the kind bands like The Naked And Famous are known for. “Dream” has moments during the verses where you can’t help but feel it’s going to jump into Nico & Vinz’s “Am I Wrong.”

Still, the album holds onto the band’s best moves – foot-stomping anthems with a home in packed stadiums (“Lift Me Up” and “Heaven”) and ballads with soaring choruses (“Born” and “Fingertips”). In these lies the heart of OneRepublic, a distillation of Tedder’s influence and his influences. It’s a potpourri formula that, with Oh My My, hasn’t lost its fragrance.

Score: 3/5

Jon Reyes