Ryan Tedder and co. present album number two of shiny, contemporary pop with all the ingredients for mainstream success - earnest ballads, rock anthems, ambitious arrangements and stylish production values. In fact, it's just a bit too perfect.
It says a lot about OneRepublic that their frontman is best known for penning hits for big ballad singers like Leona Lewis and Kelly Clarkson, and that their biggest chart success came in the form of a Timbaland remix. Perhaps it's because as a vocalist and frontman, Tedder's lack of personality and charisma leaves OneRepublic sounding exactly like any other American pop group claiming R&B sensibilities. The overall result is that, despite its user-friendly melodies and hi-tech production sheen, 'Waking Up' is strangely generic sounding.
In their favour, 'Waking Up' is a very listenable album, if mildly irritating in places. The soprano choir boy closing of 'Made For You' is an odd touch, but works reasonably well as a segue into 'All The Right Moves', underpinned by organ and essentially an extension of the previous track. On the other hand, bonus track 'Sleep' begins life as a mellow acoustic guitar driven number before sadly diverging into something of a Muse rip off with distorted guitars and Tedder's usually bland vocal attempting to tackle a higher pitch.
What really drags 'Waking Up' down is a number of uninspired ballads, which are not only infuriatingly trite but exceedingly dull to boot. The hazy atmospherics of 'All This Time' seem informed by the likes of Sting or Springsteen's 'Streets of Philadelphia' but lack the same sense of sincerity, while the snooze-worthy 'Lullaby' certainly lives up to its title. Of all the downbeat songs here, only the soft, touching piano and swelling strings of 'Fear' succeed in tugging at your heartstrings.
Whether it's the wide range of styles and genres that this album draws upon, or the fact that Ryan Tedder's ubiquitous songwriting has already become so familiar through its camouflaged presence in the charts, 'Waking Up' sounds a lot like a lot of other things. Either way, OneRepublic bring nothing new to the table. Worst of all, it's not even that catchy.