In the last decade, frontman Ryan Tedder has produced chart toppers and Grammy winning hits for the likes of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Adele. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that most of the tracks on the LP are as contagious as Freshers Flu.
The massive 16-track LP begins with ‘Let’s Hurt Tonight,’ which feels like a classic One Republic track. The song starts off with some simple acoustic guitar chords before leading us into a rousing chorus that you can easily envision being sung back to the band in an arena of adoring fans. ‘Future Looks Good’ follows in the same vein before building up to another catchy chorus with easy, sing-along lyrics like “I swear that you are, you are the future / and the future looks good.”
‘Oh My My’ featuring the French duo Cassius is the first track on the album that dips its toes into One Republic’s new experimental style. With a cool, relaxed vibe and the bass line seeming to take centre stage, the title-track is a taster of where the classic pop-rock band will be dipping their toes in at points throughout the remainder of the album.
The single ‘Kids’ is upbeat and catchy and delves into the band’s youth. Instead of pining for the past however, the lyrics match the fun beat with optimistic, hopeful lyrics like, “I refuse to look back thinking days were better / just because they're younger days / I don't know what's 'round the corner / way I feel right now I swear we’ll never change.”
‘Choke’, the sixth track on the album, is one of the stand out tracks of the album. Reminiscent of Sam Smith or John Legend, Tedder delivers a beautiful break up ballad. The song simply begins with just Tedder and the piano but by the time we reach the chorus there’s a powerful gospel style choir accompanying him. The lyrics are heartfelt and evocative as Tedder vows to keep this ex-lover in his memories and “choke on the memories.”
Track seven is the second of 3 collaborations on the album, ‘Oh My My’ with Cassius, ‘A.I’ with Peter Gabriel and ‘NbHD’ with Santigold respectfully. A.I, an abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence, echoes the track title with a synth sound that, in comparison to what we’re used to from One Republic feels a bit fake. That’s not a bad thing but the track length at over 5 minutes is pushing it a bit.
By the time you reach the halfway mark of the album, the remainder of the tracks start to feel a bit repetitive and unremarkable. Exceptions include ‘Fingertips’, a nice chilled out tune with breathy vocals from Tedder and ‘Where I Go’, a strong pop track that is an easy radio hit. The album ends on an uplifting note with ‘Heaven,’ a melody that just begs to be accompanied by a lot of jumping and fist bumping by a festival crowd as “This is heaven yeah” is sung out over the fields.
As a whole, it almost feels like you’re listening to Tedder’s Spotify playlist rather than a cohesive album. The tracks don’t always flow easily, there appears to be no consistent theme and at points you could be tricked into believing you’re listening to anyone from Maroon 5 to Fall Out Boy. But in the age of online streaming where we consume playlists over albums perhaps Tedder and Co’s new album is a glimpse into a future where an album like ‘Oh My My’ won’t seem messy and experimental but a clever and calculated move.