OneRepublic
Native


4.1
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
June 11th, 2013 | 186 replies | 14,930 views


Release Date: 03/22/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...never again to touch the ground

From their critically acclaimed debut Dreaming Out Loud to their equally celebrated sophomore effort, Waking Up, OneRepublic has more or less just been floating around comfortably in their niche as pop princes - heirs to Coldplay’s throne for whenever Chris Martin decides to hang up the microphone. Sure it’s a glamorous existence, having their faces plastered on celebrity magazines, getting invited to perform in the studio with the likes of Sara Bareilles and Gym Class Heroes – but their ceiling has always been defined by their propensity to confine themselves to who they think they’re supposed to be. It’s almost some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, where there’s a voice in Ryan Tedder’s head that says we need to write a feel good anthem – bam, here’s ‘Good Life’ – we need to write a song that can be played at a club – bam, here’s ‘Apologize.’ Part of that is obviously ingrained in the band’s style, just as any musical group at least loosely adheres to a genre, but OneRepublic has historically bound themselves to the atmospheres and soaring vocals that bands such as U2, The Script, and The Fray have worn ever-so-thin. Enter 2013, a post-Mylo Xyloto pop paradise in which the sleeker, the more polished, and the finer tuned are always better – and it is still difficult to say much has changed. Following in the footsteps of their counterparts, OneRepublic has opted for a sound that defies gravity and sounds larger than life itself. But therein lies the craziest thing of all – they pull it off, and way better than anyone could have imagined.

OneRepublic’s third studio album, Native, makes its mission known from the onset of the very first track. ‘Counting Stars’ is the kind of song that OneRepublic always had the potential to write – it’s quirky and offbeat, incontrovertibly fun, and it employs everything from gang vocals to something damn near a gospel solo. With its constant tempo changes and enormous hooks, the song announces the arrival of a OneRepublic that is no longer tied to the ground. Tedder and co. make it apparent that the band is up for anything and everything, even if their inspiration or newfound sense of liberation or whatever you want to call it is, in itself, a paradox. The path remains relatively unpredictable with the danceable ‘If I Lose Myself’, the stratospheric chorus of ‘Feel Again’, and the tribal sounding (yet oddly morbid) ‘What You Wanted.’ It’s all so tangibly OneRepublic, but in a brand new no-frills-held way that allows the band to adamantly display all of their eccentricities.

For the first time, some of the best moments on a OneRepublic album can be found outside of the singles. Look at ‘I Lived’ for example, a carpe-diem themed celebration of life and a true anthem – not in the way that any relatable and upbeat song is an anthem, but rather an anthem in the way that literally every human being on the planet could shout the lyrics to the chorus in unison and there wouldn’t be a single discrepancy in what it means to each person. Those songs aren’t written so much as they are conjured up by a universal need for them, but in either case they’re extremely rare. Then there’s the other side of the coin, the quiet and contemplative ‘Au Revior’ – a track that channels Tedder’s inner Thom Yorke and comes frighteningly close to fitting in alongside ‘Let Down’ or ‘How to Disappear Completely.’ The track is saturated in metaphors and self-doubt, warning listeners of the end: “I can tell you how many moves to check mate right now.” Not only is ‘Au Revoir’ a cut above anything that OneRepublic has ever done lyrically, but it is also proof that the band has dimensions still waiting to be discovered.

If there’s a weak section on Native, it is most certainly the midsection. ‘Light It Up’ and ‘Can’t Stop’ are not poorly composed, but they are easily forgettable in the midst of all the weightless pop ingenuity surrounding them. Additionally, ‘Burning Bridges’ does little to supplement or detract from the album, tacking an emotionless ballad onto Native when it might have better served the album as a b-side (‘Life In Color’ deserves its spot infinitely more). However, none of these songs disrupt the flow of the record or decrease the quality of the listening experience in any noticeable way – both a credit to the strength of Native’s highlights and to the thought process behind the ordering of the tracks.

Native’s curtain call is a gorgeous unfolding of ideas that consists of three very different songs. ‘Something I Need’ commences the album’s final trio, offering up ironically morose lines akin to ‘What You Wanted’ but with an added kick in its step. The lyrics depict someone who is eternally in love – “if we only die once, I wanna die with / if we only live once, I wanna live with you” – a sentiment that manages to sound elated despite its bleak outlook. Native is actually full of little moments that relate love to death, a motif that carries itself surprisingly well considering how differently most people associate the two concepts. ‘Preacher’ is the grand finale, so to speak, and it delivers everything you could possibly want from a mainstream rock song. The atmosphere is breathtaking, the lyrics are immensely personal, and almost as if to reflect the opening track, ‘Preacher’ makes use of a gospel choir to emphasize telling lines such as “God only helps those who learn to help themselves” and “he was a million miles from a million dollars, but you could never spend his wealth.” It is easily the most poignant song on Native, and it functions perfectly as the album’s punctuation mark. The only track that follows is the ninety-nine second ‘Don’t Look Down’, an atmospheric outro that serves as a sonic representation of the band’s ambition – weightless, effortless, and never again to touch the ground.

Native shows us a band that is both willing and able to evolve with the times. They may not be blazing their own trail quite yet, but as they carry on in the mold of bands such as Coldplay and U2, they continue to ascend. OneRepublic’s latest effort proves that they are at the top of their respective genre, and it may be time to stop looking at them as the prince waiting-in-the-wings and finally hand them that goddamned crown.



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user ratings (99)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
toxin (3.5)
Native is a major player in a growing revolution towards musical accountability in pop music. Who sa...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



15330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Oh Em Gee, Sowing returns from a lengthy hiatus to give a pop album a 4.1!

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

tommygun
June 11th 2013



23508 Comments


2 L8 2 POLOGISE

Digging: Obliteration - Black Death Horizon

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



9601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Still haven't heard these guys yet

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



15330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Trying to shake off the rust btw...

Oh and this is one of the best albums of the year. I fully expect to get crap for saying that but I don't care.

Gyromania
June 11th 2013



15165 Comments


I don't like this band at all but this album is excellent

dimsim3478
June 11th 2013



4716 Comments


So I guess I'll check this out then

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Sleaper
June 11th 2013



3316 Comments


i was actually thinking about this the other day... where did that guy with the jenna fischer gif go! weeew ur back.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

toxin.
June 11th 2013



12001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

whoa a 4.1, sweet review SS
i sadly haven't spun this in a while, maybe when exams are done

Cerbyrus
June 11th 2013



568 Comments


Hmm...

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2013



21567 Comments


First song's really good

Digging: Septicflesh - Communion

InbredJed
June 11th 2013



5600 Comments


I don't understand, you spend the whole opening paragraph basically claiming that they intentionally released this to mimic Mylo Zyloto and then you give it a 4.1?!?

Digging: Dick Dale - Surfer's Choice

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



9976 Comments


Lovely review Sowing, nice to see a familiar face around here. This review has a great flow to it-- I wouldn't have ever thought its writer hasn't been writing much lately.

Digging: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



15330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

An album doesn't have to be inventive to be good

Thanks Omaha, I can always count on your constructive input. How has being a staff member been treating you?

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



9976 Comments


If you ever want me to look over a review or grammatical polishing, just let me know-- been doing it awhile for others, and you may prefer doing that to coming back here without someone looking it over. Hell, I get nervous when I don't get someone else to proofread my reviews before I publish them.

But being a staffer has been great. I get to polish my writing as much as I want to, I get to cover the music that needs attention, and people actually care to hear what I have to say. Haha, I remember being a user and being really frustrated when posting reviews, because I was just a number.

Tyrael
June 11th 2013



20722 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

shit band

good work sowing

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



15330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

They aren't shit...not anymore anyway

Gyromania
June 11th 2013



15165 Comments


staff, pft

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2013



15330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Huh?

Ecnalzen
June 11th 2013



6398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey, this got a staff review! Nice!

I was pleasantly surprised by this since I was never really interested in the band before. Still can't get enough of Counting Stars... that chorus is magnificent.

Digging: O.C. and Apollo Brown - Trophies

Gyromania
June 11th 2013



15165 Comments


huh? wha?



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