Release Date: Aug 2, 2011
Record label: Wind-Up
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
O.A.R.’s seventh album is a perfectly crafted Hacky Sack soundtrack, deeply rooted in the sunburned dub stew of reggae, surf, and jazz-rock rhythms favored by purveyors of hemp head-wraps. What separates the band from the rest of the easy-rocking rabble is frontman Marc Roberge, whose lyrics are as heartfelt as a drama student’s poetry journal, albeit one who has found peace in the world (a sample gush: ”Life is amazing!”). That, along with some easy, ambling melodies, helps King transcend its asleep-on-the-quad origins.
Hand up if you’re a fan of O.A.R.—the veterans of freewheeling, reggae-tinged jams and inspirational lyrics. Now put your hand down if you loved “Shattered” and don’t give a lick about 18-minute live versions of “That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker”. I probably just lost half the crowd, and this is the kind of divisive career path that O.A.R.
O.A.R.’s fifth album, 2005’s Stories of a Stranger, was aptly named for all the wrong reasons. The band of buddies from Rockville, Maryland had fostered a fan base rooted in jam sessions, reggae-fusion, and a resonant reputation for live gigs. Stories of a Stranger, however, marked a departure that left O.A.R. unrecognizable by its early devotees.
O.A.R. streamlined their sound on 2008’s All Sides, downplaying the frat boy anthems and reggae rhythms that launched their career in favor of a slick, contemporary pop/rock approach. Released three years later, King finds the group reconvening the production team that turned All Sides into a Top 40 hit. The songs are more laid-back this time around, more reminiscent of Dave Matthews than the Snow Patrol retreads that filled All Sides.