From the opening notes of “King,” the lead track from the latest O.A.R. album of the same name, it’s obvious that O.A.R. is slowly heading in a new direction. What started with “Program Director,” on 2005’s Stories Of A Stranger has developed over time into a funk/pop hybrid that is slowly creeping into O.A.R. songs on a routine basis. Blasted by a wall of trumpets that segues into guest DJ Logic’s funky beats, “King” is a blend of pop/jazz/hip-hop, reminiscent of some early Incubus songs. It’s a strength of the band’s, showing that they will continue to grow and evolve their music, experimenting with different sounds and not settling for the status quo.
King, the album, has many of these moments of growth and experimentation. While there are still enough songs to satisfy longtime fans that prefer the original O.A.R. acoustic driven sound, the interludes and extras on King, highlight the new direction the band is taking. One step at a time, they are slowly evolving, and it’s an excellent state for the band to be in. As their popularity increases with every release, their music evolves into a newer sound that young fans will love, yet they maintain their classic sound for longtime fans. It’s a very slow, methodical movement that will happen gradually, over time, which is the best way for a band to grow.
What King does lack, however, is that one powerful, long jam, that would put it over the top. Stories Of A Stranger had “52-50.” All Sides had “War Song.” King does not have that one song and it was quite a disappointment. Over the years, O.A.R. has become known for the long, intense, powerful anthems, and this is the first O.A.R. album in years that lacks that one track. Perhaps it’s another sign of their evolution, or perhaps they didn’t feel there was a track powerful enough to be that anthem during this round of writing. Whatever the case, the long powerful anthem is missed.
What’s new for the band is the inclusion of Interludes. Three of them appear on King, and they are another addition to the experimentation that the band has released on their latest album. The interludes are best described as short vignettes of songs that could have been incredible if they were fleshed out. These almost songs show off the best of the bands individual talents from Jerry DePizzo’s saxophone solo, to Richard On’s guitar prowess. The interludes are a fun inclusion and a welcome change.
The best song of the album is also its first single. “Heaven” is O.A.R. at their strongest. Blending the perfect amount of classic O.A.R. with the new direction the band is heading, “Heaven” could be one of their best songs ever. This is a song that will attract fans old and new, and if you’ve never heard an O.A.R. song before, this is the one to get you started.
Overall, King left me feeling satisfied, although it was full of surprises. If you are a new fan of O.A.R., you will love this album. If you are a long time fan of O.A.R., you might be a little more skeptical, so I say purchase at your own risk. However, given enough time and spins, King is bound to grow on even the most cynical of O.A.R. fans.
Ryo’s Rating: 7 (out of 10)
Taking On The World Today
Not For Me
Are You Low?
Gotta Be Wrong Sometimes
We Made It – Interlude 1
The Last Time
Brand New – Interlude 2
Wicked Storm - Interlude 3
Over And Over
Back To One