OneRepublic are back with a brand new album, Oh My My. Frontman Ryan Tedder promised that the record would push the band’s musical boundaries as much as possible, and in the run up to the release, the band unveiled lead single ‘Wherever I Go‘, followed by ‘Kids‘, ‘Future Looks Good‘, and ‘A.I.’. With each track taking us in a slightly different musical direction, we had high expectations for what would follow.
On Friday, Oh My My was released in its entirety, and after only a few listens, we’ve got to applaud OneRepublic for their musical bravery. The 16-track (or 20, if you’re fan of a good old deluxe version like us) album is a mammoth offering, delivering a mixture of powerful ballads, sing-a-long anthems and uptempo tracks you can lose yourself in. Whether you’re a fan of acoustics, electronic pop, choirs, synths, Tedder’s falsetto vocals or incredible collaborations, there’s something for everyone on this album.
Oh My My opens strongly with ‘Let’s Hurt Tonight’, described by Tedder as one of his favourite songs to have written. Whilst the album is largely experimental, ‘Let’s Hurt Tonight’ reminds us all of the OneRepublic we know and love. We already know that the anthemic chorus, complete with Tedder’s roaring vocals, is going to sound wonderful live.
Next up is ‘Future Looks Good’, which was released as an instant grat track with the album pre-order. We already fell in love with this song when we first heard it. There is a great build up throughout the song, leading to a fantastic instrumental section which will no doubt be electric live. Again, for us it’s got a familiar OneRepublic feel to it, however, it leads nicely onto the first experimental track on the album.
‘Oh My My’, the album’s title track, is a collaboration with French duo Cassius, known for their synthpop/French house music. The track opens with a slick guitar solo, before introducing some synth beats. The chorus is very Euro Pop, but it works. It’s great to hear a band who are known for their anthemic pop rock tracks venture into new territory.
The fourth track is ‘Kids’, which again, was released to the world a few months ago. The song has the familiar OneRepublic sound, in terms of being anthemic, but it also delves into new territory with its electro-synth sound, therefore pushing the band’s musical boundaries. We must also mention Tedder’s hypnotic falsetto during the soaring chorus.
Next is ‘Dream’, a solid album track which we can imagine will be a thumping anthem when performed live. It’s a guitar driven track, with the opening line “When I was younger, you told me I should get my s*** together” setting the tone for the rest of the song.
After five anthemic, uptempo tracks, we reach the first ballad on the album, ‘Choke’. According to Tedder, it was the first track written for the album, and survived every track-list change during the album process. It’s a strong ballad, and features a stunning choir on the chorus, which really hits home the emotional message of loss during the song. Tedder’s vocals are golden but the added choir in the chorus really chokes us up [no pun intended]. We’ve yet to love a OneRepublic ballad as much as their worldwide hit ‘Apologize’, but we think ‘Choke’ is a sure fire contender. It is definitely one of the standout tracks on the album, giving us goosebumps and even causing us to shed a tear or ten.
Next up is the Peter Gabriel collaboration ‘A.I.’, which picks up the pace after the stirring ‘Choke’. This collaboration was released a few weeks ago, and we’re still in awe of the experimental value of it, and how different it is to anything OneRepublic have ever released. As a standalone song, the five-minute track is borderline bizarre, with its hypnotically uptempo first half, leading into an incredible instrumental section before being transformed into a haunting section consisting mainly of Gabriel’s vocals. It almost sounds like two different songs, however, in the middle of an album it works well, especially when leading onto the eighth track.
‘Better’ is the band’s next offering, which includes a bit of scat-singing from Tedder. The song comes as a result of the anxiety Tedder felt whilst completing the album, but every morning he’d wake up and feel a bit better. It’s a very different sound from the band, however, it’s one of the standouts for us for its uniqueness, use of synth and the choir during the last chorus.
‘Born’ is the next track, and is what we’d describe as a slow jam with an uplifting chorus. It’s a good track but falls short among some of the other incredible offerings on the album. It leads on to ‘Fingertips’, which is a ballad at its best. It’s a lot more subtle and stripped back than ‘Choke’, but we’re already picturing this being a goosebump-inducing moment at any OneRepublic live show. The lyrics are poignant and worth listening carefully to.
The eleventh track is ‘Human’, which has a dark vibe from the start, although a quick beat is thrown over the top, before it launches into a catchy instrumental section which reminds us of an old-school 90’s dance track. There’s also some synth elements later on, making this one of the most experimental tracks on the album. Whilst ‘Human’ didn’t impact on us straight away, it’s great to hear these different sides to the band.
Moving on to ‘Lift Me Up’, which us brings back to a more familiar OneRepublic sound. It’s a good solid pop track, but probably more of a grower than an instant favourite. ‘NbHD’ is also a grower for us, with the band teaming up with Santigold for the track. The opening bars are promising, but we’re left feeling a bit flat through the verse, until the stonking chorus picks up the song again. However, we’re pretty certain that after a few more listens, ‘NbHD’ could become a favourite.
Track 14 is ‘Wherever I Go’, the first track to be unveiled from Oh My My many months ago. Tedder has said on several occasions that the track is a bizarre one and he wanted to truly test the waters when choosing the first song to release from the new album. He even stated that if it wasn’t the first release from Oh My My, it might not even have been included at all. We’re so pleased that the band had faith in the song, as for us, it is one of the most significant on the album. It’s anthemic, in a true OneRepublic style, but a complete polar opposite to their usual material. Tedder’s vocals are so gritty during the verses, in contrast to his flawless falsetto during the chorus, but it all works perfectly. The thumping chorus, complete with incredible instrumentals, is the highlight of the song.
As the standard version of the album comes to an end, the penultimate track ‘All These Things’ is a laid back offering which showcases Tedder’s vocals. Had it been placed anywhere else, it might have been lost but it’s a nice track to wind down the record. The final standard track is ‘Heaven’, and from the opening bars it’s evident that the band wanted to end with an anthemic, feel good track, which rounds off the musical journey we’ve taken by listening.
Of course, here at CelebMix, we’re forever jumping at the chance to listen to deluxe versions of albums, and OneRepublic’s is no exception. The deluxe version offers four additional tracks; two new songs, and two different versions of album tracks. ‘Colors’ opens the deluxe section, and proves to be a beautiful ballad with a dreamy chorus. It actually sounds rather Coldplay-esque, which goes to show how the band have diversified their sound on this record.
‘The Less I Know’ is next, and has a slight country vibe to it. It would have perhaps made the album even more genre-busting if it had been included on the standard record, however, it didn’t really impact on us that much and we can see why it was only included as an extra track. To finish the deluxe version, there’s an acoustic version of ‘Heaven’ and a string version of ‘Better’. ‘Heaven’ sounds just as great acoustically, and further showcases Tedder’s vocals. However, the string version of ‘Better’ is just brilliant. It gives the song a different spin, and the string sounds actually suit the song perfectly.
On paper, Oh My My might sound like a mismatched combination of tracks, however, in its entirety it actually works very well. If we had to pick the song of the album, it would definitely be ‘Choke’ – an anthemic ballad which will reduce even the most stone-hearted of people to tears. Overall, OneRepublic have successfully proven their musical diversity and have delivered an eclectic album which is definitely worth listening to.
What are your thoughts on Oh My My? Do you have a favourite song yet? Let us know on Twitter @CelebMix.