OneRepublic’s ‘Native’: Album Review

emilytan | March 26, 2013 5:15 am
After writing for and producing other artists, Ryan Tedder jumped back in the studio with the rest of OneRepublic to record the Colorado band’s latest album, Native (out today, . It’s been four years since their third LP, Waking Up, and OneRepublic clearly sound like they wanted to go large this time around. Influenced by their experiences over the past few years, the band aimed at creating an album that will not only appeal to American fans, but also to people across the globe. The results: 12 tracks record full of big sounds and lyrics that run in a more thoughtful lane than previous efforts from Tedder & Co.

Since it was released last summer, “Feel Again” is a great place to start. (It was written way before any of the other tracks on the album, and originally offered up as a single to raise awareness and funds for Save The Children’s Every Beat Matters campaign.) Even though the song didn’t break the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 — and has received some criticism for its similarities to Florence + The Machine — it’s hard to knock the band for writing a catchy charity single. Here they embed actual heartbeats from children in Malawi and Guatemala into the song, and it fits right in with the rest of the epic scope OneRepublic attempt with Native.

Just as “Feel Again” is being compared to “Dog Days Are Over,” the intro to “Can’t Stop” sounds similar to the beginning of Rihanna‘s “Diamonds.” Tedder has been dogged by claims of being unoriginal before (see the “Halo”/”Already Gone” controversy). Perhaps he should stop listening to his favorites playlist during studio time? That said, the song ventures into dark territory where Tedder seems to channeling his inner Annie Lennox on the mic, which actually kind of makes it pretty brilliant.

Previously known for their use of orchestral arrangements (remember “Apologize”?), OneRepublic seem to have been inspired by electronic music’s move into the Top 40 this time around. That’s clear from their latest single, “If I Lose Myself,” which Tedder was inspired to record after Coachella last year. His signature falsetto and the bombastic chorus keep things very “OneRepublic,” though the song also does its best to come off as a potential club banger — something not usually associated with the band. They get an “A” for effort.

Despite these slight changes in style, OneRepublic’s core sound is very much apparent. From the introspective lyrics to the elaborate instrumental layers and arrangements, Native proves to be an album worth giving a spin. Songs like “Counting Stars,” “Something I Need” and “I Lived” will keep core fans and AC radio listeners happy, while “Preacher,” a song about Tedder’s grandfather, boasts a classical string section and gospel choir, making it another one for those who favor old-school OneRepublic.

Overall, Native has OneRepublic demonstrating how they’ve grown as a band while also somewhat managing to stick to their musical foundations.

The Best Song That Isn’t A Single: “Can’t Stop,” which will most likely not be a single. Between the hard beats and Ryan Tedder’s consistent falsetto, it’s the track that gives this otherwise airy album some edge.

Best Listened To: On your next life adventure. Whether you’re backpacking through a new part of the world or making a big move across the country, each of the tracks are like markers on that journey.

Rating: 3.5/5

Emily Tan