Sometimes an artist I enjoy will release an album and it will terrify me. I’ll be terrified because I think they’ve set a benchmark that will be hard for them to ever compete with, especially with their own records.
Coldplay did it with X&Y.
My Chemical Romance did it with Welcome to the Black Parade.
U2 did it with How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
OneRepublic just did it with Native.
Native is one of the best albums I’ve ever listened to and is definitely the best outing from OneRepublic. This is saying something, because I thought Waking Up was fantastic. They took a different turn from Dreaming Out Loud and went into a more poppy, radio sound. Native sounds like a mix between both of their earlier albums. There are songs that hit the road with the pop sound and will be played all over radio stations for months to come. “Counting Stars,” “If I Lose Myself,” “Feel Again,” “I Lived,” the list just keeps going on songs that work.
They also turn it around on some songs and go into some of the more deep motifs from Dreaming Out Loud. “Preacher” stands out as a track bursting from the seams with emotion. It seems to be more of a story set to music than a song meant for the radio. It’s almost as if the band is sitting us all down for a story in front of a fireplace. Ryan Tedder tells us the story of his grandfather and the lessons that he passed down. It’s a truly great track.
When I judge albums, I judge them on one factor more than others. I judge it on how much I want to press shuffle, or how much I want to listen to the album 8-track style. 8-Tracks, for those who don’t know, are un-skippable, un-rewindable, tapes. You have to listen to the whole album all the way through before listening to it again. Very few albums achieve something like this nowadays. With iTunes, Amazon, MP3 players, etc; it’s easy to skip through songs. Native keeps you in the moment though. You just fall into the album and let it wash over you like a cool wave. It’s just that good.
A solid 9.5/10 from me. It loses .5 for “Feel Again” being an almost direct rip off of “The Dog Days Are Over.” The song is still great, but it’s impossible not to notice the huge similarities.