If, like most of the pop-listening public, you heard Timbaland's chart-topping remix of OneRepublic's single "Apologize" before you heard the original, you may be mildly confused about what kind of music the band makes. Timabaland's signature electronic swizzles and "eh-eh-eh"s leave the impression that OneRepublic is a style-heavy outfit a la Maroon 5, but frontman Ryan Tedder's plaintive words and woebegone themes don't fall far from forerunners Keane, Coldplay, and the Fray. Dreaming out Loud
chisels away at the dichotomy. "Apologize", stripped of its swizzles, is a gorgeous modern rock song made all the more gorgeous by the urgency in Tedder's striking, unscuffed voice, and a lot of the songs on this record stack up similarly. Which is to say that, although tracks like "Tyrant" and opener "Say (All I Need)" wrap themselves around some seriously stylish production, substance is really this band's thing. A piano played by turns ferociously and tenderly drives the point home, and so do some choice lyrics; if you are inclined to choke up at feelings laid bare, check out "Goodbye, Apathy" and "Come Home" at your own risk. --Tammy La Gorce
OneRepublic sprang to fame last year when producer Timbaland - a massive fan of the band's singer/songwriter, Ryan Tedder - featured a remix of their Apologize on his Shock BVlue album. After the song's appearance in a slew of teen-centric American TV dramas, allied with two years of MySpace notoriety, it destroyed all chart competition at the end of 2007. And now the UK public get to hear their debut album, stuffed to the gills with similar fare.
Firstly, while the band, their record company and Timbaland (who twiddles the knobs here) all want you to believe that they're a 'rock' band, nothing could be further from the truth. Tedder's genius (of a sort) is that he's been able to take the almost perfect demographic of U2's anthemic choruses and Coldplay's angst-ridden, chiming melodies and weld when with hardly a seam in sight. Yet Tedder's vocals are pure boy band pop. Mated with Timbaland's bubbly r 'n' b production, and despite the stadium-filling guitars and rattling drums, Dreaming! remains an album that will appeal to fans of the OC and those moments when the lovelorn antics of the cast demand some cod-existentialism.
In the context of chart action this is no bad thing, however. Tedder and co. really can deliver hook after hook. And it's not all flag-waving stuff. Goodbye Apathy has a chorus that's charmingly harmonious while Won't Stop is a warm shuffle that only the hardest of hearts could resist. A little bit Travis-like, in fact. And as mentioned, songs like Apologize, Mercy or All We Are are built to raise lighters the world over. But delve a little deeper and the lyrics deliver hardly any grist for the mental mill. It's too cliché-ridden by far.
Add to this the band's rather disturbing need to endlessly thank their creator in the sleeve notes and, to the paranoid amongst you, the band's name may start to hint at a more sinister agenda that seeks to deliver conformity in the guise of what was once the medium of rebellion. In the end, despite the skill (and there is a whole load of it on display here) this is all you're left with. Music shouldn't be wasted on such empty gestures. It may be pop, but it's a long way from fun. --Chris Jones
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