There’s a reason that the Beatles’ later albums are still held in such high regard almost 50 years after their release. Their albums scoped out multiple genres and used innovative production and instrumentation to enhance songs that, at their simplest forms, were truly memorable.
On first listen, “Native,” the latest effort by OneRepublic, fails at these criteria. There was a consistent overuse of hand clapping, ambient soundscapes, percussion-less choruses, and distorted, muffled and over-processed drums. The instrumentation really didn’t change throughout the whole album, and this was quite disappointing. This is the band that created “Secrets,” a hit single based around a cello line.
I was hoping for some more innovative exploration into instruments less used in pop music.
Most disturbing, however, was the fact that I couldn’t remember what I had listened to after I first gave the album a basic run through. I expected more from Ryan Tedder, a more than capable songwriter and producer who has worked with countless hit artists.
The one standout track for me was the album’s opener, “Counting Stars.” It seems to start off like any other song on the album, but suddenly turns and weaves a catchy gospel line into the song about a minute and a half before it ends. Now it’s quite possible that I’m just not wired to like this band’s sound. My younger sister, who is a major OneRepublic fan, thought the album was amazing.
Overall, I’m sure current fans of the band will love this album, but it doesn’t serve outside listeners in the same way. I feel that the band didn’t work to their full musical potential and has more interesting music to offer up in the future.