OneRepublic, ‘Native’ – Album Review
OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder is known for his songwriting contributions for other singers and acts (like Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez), but we have to remember that the singer fronts his own successful and accomplished pop-rock band.
OneRepublic dole out some of the catchiest and most thoughtful tunes in the alt rock universe, and they embed themselves in your brain for hours, days, weeks and months at a time. Many of the tracks on their latest, ‘Native,’ are of that ilk.
However, the album maintains a slow and steady pace, from which the band rarely deviates. It’s infused with lots of celestial, ethereal playing and dabbles with EDM, which currently rules the roost.
Also, Tedder’s reverence for U2 is easily and obviously felt on much of ‘Native,’ and we doubt he would try to mask that. His love of handclaps as an instrumental sound dominates the record, as well.
‘Native’ boasts notes of hope and thought-provoking lyrics, as well as some melancholy music. Even when things feel a bit maudlin, you can still dance to it.
1. ‘Counting Stars’
Tedder adopts a declarative tone with his vocal delivery on the track. The keys make this the most dance-oriented moment you are going to get on ‘Native’ and it’s a nice way to set a tone, even if the album does not maintain this type of pop energy.
2. ‘If I Lose Myself’
The mid-tempo song, which was the album’s second single, is built on sonic tension and some falsetto sprinkled into the mix. It’s anchored by Tedder’s earnest and honest delivery. [Listen Here]
3. ‘Feel Again’
The first single is crazy catchy, and has a communal energy to it, thanks to the harmonized chorus and the handclap beats, which we would eventually find all over the record. It makes all the “lonely souls” feel not-so-lonely. [Listen Here]
4. ‘What You Wanted’
The song proudly traffics in melancholy –-“They say the best love is insane”– and honestly, it is a little sleepy, save for the lightly tribal percussion that defines the song.
5. ‘I Lived’
Another of only a few faster-paced “jams,” this song has a funky, lived-in energy, and is looser than many of its counterparts. It also has more fun than any other track on the record.
6. ‘Light It Up’
There’s ’70s rock vibe on ‘Light It Up,’ which is not a recurrent style on the record. Tedder’s voice and handclaps snake through this uncharacteristically chugga chugga track, which is more aggressive than any other offering on the album. It’s very U2 in its scope and execution.
7. ‘Can’t Stop’
The song has some synthy elements, but the band doesn’t dissolve the potent and organic song structure that defines their tunes in favor of pop studio trickery. There’s more embellished handclaps here, too. Tedder is not afraid to get in touch with his sensitive side or show it to the rest of the world.
8. ‘Au Revoir’
More shoe-gazing piano pop arrives in the form of ‘Au Revoir.’ Who needs Ambien when you can nestle under some down covers, tuck earbuds into your ears while playing a song like this track and get lulled into a peaceful state of being? You’ll achieve the same result, without the chemical hangover.
9. ‘Burning Bridges’
This track also has some synthy layers, with Tedder using the technology and the studio budget at his disposal to create some fresh, score-like sounds in a pop song.
10. ‘Something I Need’
By now, you’re aware that Tedder is totally in tune with his ruminative side, and there’s more of that here, but there’s a super punchy chorus that propels the song forward, giving it an anthemic vibe. He and the band are good at that, too.
Spacey and ethereal, the song is a soft, sweet ballad about the kind of wealth that you cannot spend. It’s not easy to distinguish between two forms of wealth in life, but Tedder poses such existential questions when telling this story about his grandfather. The choral harmony gives the song a spiritual feel, like it should be sung in church.
12. ‘Don’t Look Down’
Tedder’s slight falsetto floats in space, as the music builds behind him, giving the mostly instrumental song a score-like tone and timbre.
13. ‘Something’s Gotta Give’
Another rumination on how money means nothing when you have time. There’s a layered vocal in the chorus that will remind astute listeners of the long-defunct Remy Zero. There’s a real richness in this track.
14. ‘Life in Color’
We’ve got a bright, bold, almost-carnivalesque song here. Tedder’s greatest achievement is that he is a master storyteller and that knows how to craft a hook. He does both of those things — and well — here.
15. ‘If I Lose Myself’ (Acoustic)
Few songs can sound fuller when stripped down, but that’s the case with ‘If I Lose Myself’ when left to its strings. It’s like a mini-symphony.
16. ‘What You Wanted’ (Acoustic)
The lushness of the song reminds us a bit of Snow Patrol. And once again, Tedder and co. use handclaps like a real instrument.
17. ‘Burning Bridges’ (Acoustic)
A softer reprise on the earlier track, this doesn’t lose any heft despite being acoustic.