By Hayden Wright
It’s been ten years since OneRepublic burst onto pop music charts with “Apologize,” the Timbaland-produced breakup track from their album Dreaming Out Loud. Since then, the quintet from Colorado Springs has shown more of their range from the pensive “All the Right Moves” to the jaunty 2013 “Counting Stars.” In some ways, the band defies categorization: They’ve proven facility with the whims of pop producers as well as successful forays into folk pop and even disco.
On Oh My My, OneRepublic will remind fans how effortlessly the brand breezes from genre to genre, containing more influences than it’s possible to count. From the contemporary New Wave ideas on “Born” and “Kids” to the rousing closer “Heaven,” there are plenty of great songs absent from this list—but on first listen, these are the five best tracks on Oh My My.
“NbHD” featuring Santigold.
The huge production of this song indulges OneRepublic’s California disco fantasies, recalling Beck at his happiest and even Quentin Tarantino’s postmodern kung-fu western aesthetic. Santigold’s vocals heighten the proceedings, challenging Ryan Tedder’s upwards.
“Oh My My” feauring Cassius
Brent Kutzle’s electric bass is the clear star of the album’s title track, creating a funky and spirited driving force that erupts into more disco bliss through the chorus. What starts as a simple bassline evolves into more flamoyant sonic flourishes like voice manipulation and trebly synthesizers. Many of Oh My My‘s most polished discotheque moments make the Mumford-and-Sonsiness of “Counting Stars” seem downright hokey by comparison.
If “Counting Stars” represents OneRepublic one evolution ago, “Choke” is a call-and-answer response, channeling folk and gospel influences with greater gravitas. A soaring backup choir takes listeners to church on a complex, mostly acoustic production—Tedder and company can’t help but show off their range on this album.
On “Better,” OneRepublic deliver a kind of psychedelic dubstep beat, merging rock and dance as they do best. A plucky strings section and synthesizers work in concert to buoy the track, and Tedder delivers lyrics like “Losing the clarity / [at] least I’m never boring.”
“A.I.” featuring Peter Gabriel
There’s something undeniably rad about hearing Peter Gabriel (who co-wrote the number) sing “I just want your love automatic / artificial intelligence.” This cool, thoroughly modern song literally connects OneRepublic’s throwback influences with their most contemporary impulses as a band. It helps that the song holds up on its own, but Gabriel’s mere presence on Oh My My makes this immediate standout track.