Coldplay made dreamy pop/rock the in-thing in the genre but there may finally be a long-term answer to Coldplay here in the U.S. courtesy of former indie rock turned Timbaland project One Republic. The band, driven by dreamy landscape rock buttressed by the heartfelt penning and angst-filled voice of frontman Ryan Tedder, has come forward with one of the best major-label debuts of the year and might prove that Timbaland could be a worthy producing opponent to Chicago's Kanye West, who hasn't met a genre he didn't like to touch his own producing genius with.
The debut, 'Dreaming Out Loud' is a 13-track allegory to the very title of the album. The band with their dreamscape sound mixed with superb writing from Tedder with some of Timbaland's obsession with hynoptic beats and sounds and a heavy helping of the piano toiled for a while in the indie and underground (even almost becoming a You Gotta Know on this very site) before catching the ear of Timbaland early this year. But despite the strong debut, by no means is the material original in any aspect. Tedder has written and produced for other bands and solo acts and just simple has left the best for himself and that in itself is strong; but by no means is it something not heard of before or tried before.
The album starts off the right foot with 'Say (All I Need)' and it gives the listener the vehicle to dip head-first into Ryan Tedder's angst-filled voice and lyrics dipped into a dreamy landscape of pop, rock, and a hint of electronica, something their new counterparts in England shy away from most of the time. The other aspect of this song and through most of the album is unlike Coldplay and namely frontman Chris Martin, Tedder and company has chosen to master the swelling, cranked-up choruses Coldplay refuses to do in their dream-pop/rock.
'All Fall Down' is probably as hard as you'll get with Tedder and band as Tedder has written for many pop stars including Ashley Tisdale, Natasha Bedingfield, Blake Lewis, and Hilary Duff. Of course he has seemed to leave the best for him and his band and the very powerful 'All Fall Down' is a good example of the kind of material he won't write for anyone but himself and One Republic. 'Tyrant' is another wonderful track, taking what Coldplay has crafted and giving it some grit through the electric guitar-playing of Zach Filkins and booming drum playing of Eddie Fisher. Adding to the gritiness is Ryan's sometimes wailing voice that reminds you of what happens if you mix Coldplay and the Fray together.
Won't Stop reflects another side of Tedder, wistful, reflective and contemplative. The song is paced by pensive piano and the familiar riff used by the acoustic guitar in the music of Tyler Hilton's. The lyrics and vocals in Tedder give the song its wistful nature and at times he reminds you of Maroon 5's Adam Levine as he is in an almost falsetto-like voice throughout the 5-minute song.
'All We Are' is a Fray-like number with the familiar layered piano and swelling guitar that the fellow Coloradoans are known for. While One Republic are by no means a true arena-rock band, 'All We Are' could be offered to radio as an arena pop/rock hit. The song however retains a little original charm with Tedder's Chris Martin-like wail.
'Someone to Save You' is a well-crafted attempt at more upbeat dream rock with an arena feel and might help One Republic in the long run to avoid being named "Coldplay wanna-bes" by their detractors. The upbeatness in the song is helped by the drum work of Fisher and Tedder's voice sounds more assertive in this song so it indicates his willingness to adapt to song material.
The album ends with the piano-driven 'Come Home.' The song, driven by its pensive piano-playing of Tedder is accented by the occasional non-worded wail of the frontman. The song overall does sound a bit like Matt White's 'A Moment of Weakness' at times with how the songs builds itsefl up to the chorus. The song overall doesn't work without the rest of the band playing the dreamscape you hear throughout. You might get disappointed at their attempt at stripping down their sound because the ambience disappears and it sounds quite lonely. Only Tedder's brilliant writing and voice saves the song from being a horrible way to end an album.
The album does have a remix of 'Apologize,' mixed by executive producer Timbaland and remixes are remixes. The remix job is vintage Timbaland, with his penchant deep bass beats and adding his brand of hynoptic electronica. Unfortunately for the band, it did make the band go forward and get the album out faster than they should have as the album overall could have used a little tweaking at times. Overall the album has more strong songs than weak songs, the weak songs such as 'Come Home,' which felt like a weak ending to an otherwise strong debut. Now let's see if the group can get a bit more original on their next album. It's OK to become the answer to Coldplay just as long as you don't end up most of the time sounding exactly like them all the time. The album gets a 4.4, strong debut, but could have been a whole lot more.