Review Summary: O.A.R. may have finally run out of steam.
Many times when you're cruising around in your method of transportation and you're flipping through the radio stations, you will hear a certain song. You know the words and you know it's a popular song. It's incredibly repetitive, annoying, and you know it's catchy chorus is going to be stuck in your head for at least the rest of the day. You want to switch the stations, but it's too late. The infectious lyrics have already triggered that part of your brain and you'll be hearing this song wherever you go for the next week and a half. You hear this song on the radio all the time, but you have no clue who the artist is behind this madness. Guess what, chances are that the song you're hearing is by none other than O.A.R.
I am a big O.A.R. fan, I won't lie. I have most of their albums, and I think they are outstanding live performers. They have produced many outstanding songs, yet have always seemed to stay out the spotlight. However, with their latest release, Stories of a Stranger
, they have succumbed to creating that despicable radio hit album; filled with a couple strong radio hits, and the rest is nothing but pure disgustingly bland filler.
Let's start with those excellently bad radio hits. The first and most recognizable is Love and Memories.
No doubt you've heard this song before if you ever listen to the radio. Chances are you didn't know O.A.R. was the band behind this cliche pop rock jam. I can't stand to listen to this song, as it just sickens me. The next 'hit' would be Tragedy in Waiting.
Very similar to Love and Memories, we will find the random, pointless verses leading up to that 'memorable' chorus. By memorable, I mean it will be replaying over and over again in your mind for a week. The other songs that may fall into this 'radio hits' category would be the insanely pop-oriented Wonderful Day
, which sounded much better in its original version on 34th & 8th, and Heard the World
might as well be thrown in with this as it follows the exact same song formula as the previously mentioned Love and Memories and Tragedy in Waiting.
While some may find the radio hits to be mildly interesting and at least tolerable, they will immediately be put off by the rest of The Stranger. The Stranger, Lay Down,
and Program Director
all sound like they are the exact same song, with just a few breaks in between. While they all start out with different intros, the verses and chorus fall into that same bumbling bland pop line. When the tempo is not upbeat and poppy, the songs are nothing but, "yawn." Dakota
, which consists of four and a half minutes of straight mumbling is beyond bad. The only time the album ever gets a glimpse of light is during the twelfth and final track, 52-50
. While the song begins exactly the same as The Stranger, Lay Down, and Program Director, it transforms halfway through to an epic guitar solo followed by an all-out thrash at the end. The final two minutes of this song are pure pleasure. However, two minutes of greatness thrown in with 52 minutes of repetitive, intolerable music does not even come close to saving the album. Not to mention that the album only satisfies in its final minutes. It's a shame really, they should've saved those two good minutes for a good album.
Overall, this album is filled with repetitive pop filler and mindless, bland ballads. Where O.A.R. has found much success earlier in their career, they fall far short here. The music seems to be empty. The lack of guitar riffs and abundance of chord strumming is one of the causes. The entrance of keyboards may be another reason. All in all, O.A.R. falls far short with Stories of a Stranger. I would surely recommend any of their other studio albums over this. Let's hope they have better luck and a better effort on their next album.