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When I first heard about O.A.R.’s pairing with Wind-Up, I wasn’t immediately thrilled. Wind-Up had gone from a fairly strict rock-only label over the past five years into a strong pop label with some releases they believed in on the side. I wanted O.A.R. to go back to how they were when I was in college, and I didn’t think that was possible again with another label on board. In the later stages of O.A.R.’s stay on Atlantic, the music evolved but it catered to what it was supposed to do too. It was always recognizable as O.A.R. music, but they went away from what they’d done for years. They went away from the wanderer, 8 minute songs, and 15-song albums, and started making pop music. I liked it; it just was what it was. So once I heard of the pairing between Wind-Up and O.A.R., I was fairly convinced that this album would have more hooks and more pop to it than anything the band had done previous. I wasn’t expecting autotuner but everything just shy of that. I’m jumping up and down happy, thrilled that it didn’t happen. Evidently it’s a great pairing and one that could last as long as the band’s last record deal. The debut O.A.R./Wind-Up record is more like the band eight to ten years ago than anything they released since then. I really feel like “King” is the O.A.R. album that’s always been the essence of this band. Laid back, storytelling, good production but not over the top, and plenty of music to go through. That’s the case with “King” it doesn’t have a giant “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker” eight and a half minute song, but there’s 16 songs here, three interludes, great messages and great stories AND a heavy incorporation of a horn section. I’d be lying if the horns don’t put some reservation in the album experience the first few songs you hear them, but eventually they’re incredibly easy to latch on to and enjoy. Nobody had incorporated a horn section outside of the ska environment in mellow mainstream music since UB40, O.A.R. did it with Greg Wattenberg and they did it excellently. “King” isn’t a beast of a record that’s going to have single after single (it will have at least one), but it’s the record that this band should be making. O.A.R. fans aren’t just pleased by “King”, they’re grinning from ear to ear the first time they listen to this.


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