Since OneRepublic broke big in 2007 with “Apologize,” frontman Ryan Tedder and Co. have released three full-lengths of pop-rock with ingredients that felt genetically engineered for Top 40 radio: soaring choruses and Tedder’s crisp, if anodyne, vocal. They’ve rarely tried to be edgy, instead catering to their legions that love their tried-and-true formula.
That all changes on the group’s fourth LP, Oh My My — their most diverse-sounding album yet. Electro club bangers (“Kids,” “Human”) crash into stadium-sized rock anthems (“Let’s Hurt Tonight”) before giving way to gospel-tinged sing-alongs (“Choke”). There are also R&B-ish moments (“Fingertips”), electro-funk adventures (“Oh My My”), and pure pop delights (“Lift Me Up”). Peter Gabriel delivers a spacey outro on a song called “A.I.” and Santigold’s delicate mezzo-soprano offers ethereal uplift to “NbHD.”
Tedder has said in interviews that he designed the album the way a music lover might craft a playlist in 2016, with no allegiance to any one genre. That makes sense in theory, but in practice it can feel like the group is chasing too many trends. Of course, as Tedder has largely shaped the top of the charts over the last half-decade, having written and produced hits for the likes of Adele (“Rumour Has It,” “Remedy”), Beyonce (“Halo”), One Direction (“Right Now”), and Taylor Swift (“Welcome to New York”), those sounds are readily available to him, but the real problem lies in the group’s delivery. Lacking any real character, it’s not hard to imagine what any of his collaborators might have done with these tunes.
“A.I.” feat. Peter Gabriel
Two words: Peter Gabriel.
A soulful reflection of love lost worthy of the tears it induces.