OneRepublic – Native
Mosley / Interscope
March 22, 2013
What It Sounds Like: Reach-for-the-sky choruses, seamlessly mixing electro, pop, rock, and beats.
I’m a latecomer to a lot of Top-40 singles, simply because I’m much more about my CDs and my iPod rather than the radio. So it comes as no surprise that even though Counting Stars, the third single off of OneRepublic’s third record, was released back in June, I didn’t hear it until November. I loved it the very first time I heard it, and was certainly taken by surprise when Shazam fired up and told me who it was. This is what I knew about OneRepublic at the time: the songs Apologize (2007) and Good Life (2009) – that’s it. Counting Stars was different; it had a thicker chorus. It incorporated those folk-shouts that had been made so famous by The Lumineers in Ho Hey. It showcased electronics and production, but only halfway, so you could still tell it was a band, and not simply a MacBook. It used a double hand-clap. Plus, while the lyrics in the verse don’t match up or relate to the chorus (this is still OneRepublic, I’m not forgetting), the lyrics in the chorus are a simple, thought-out home run:
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Plus, it’s the one song on Native is that is a pure Ryan Tedder solo write. The man has talent.
I’m used to top-40 records having a good single or two, and then falling flat on their face. I feel like more and more, record companies (and bands, singers, production duos, etc) know that they can’t do that anymore. What goes out into the market needs to be quality, or it’s not going to sell. Gone (obviously, and sadly) are the days when you had to buy a whole record to see how the rest of it was. OneRepublic needed to put out a record chocked full of hits, and boy oh boy – they did it.
The likes of Feel Again and If I Lose Myself are arena-shaking singles galore to tug at your heartstrings, while the distorted “sit in the groove” jam of Light It Up and the “take you to church” closer Preacher show these guys doing anything but making the same track over and over. Not only do they change it up, but the common thread that runs though the whole disc is that they are simply catchy, sing-along songs that can stand the test of time.
I’m a sucker for the minimalist, echoing Can’t Stop, with its single hitting piano keys, and Ryan’s vocals on the chorus, recalling an slight Justin Hawkins type of feel, which is from far out in left field. Whoever Ryan couldn’t stop thinking about, however, certainly breaks him down on the wonderful Au Revoir, a pinao-and-strings ballads that floats down the stream of breaking, or being broken. Or loss.
My biggest complaint is the phoned-in I Lived, which beats to death the over-exaggerated “don’t let life pass you by!” and “live every second!” routine that, while being smart in its true context, I feel is currently used more for selfishness, and self serving motivation in this current day and age.
Tons of pros. Very small amount of cons.
Native is one of the better radio records of the year, no question.
If you had to listen to two tracks (besides Counting Stars): Feel Again / Can’t Stop