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. That being said, the problems that plagued the previous album are still alive and kicking. Filled with island grooves that sound landlocked and lifeless, King is another attempt by O.A.R. to reinvent themselves. Like an adult returning to campus to relive his glory days on the football field, the guys throw themselves back into the world of neo-Rasta jams and collegiate semi-funk, playing the sort of music that wouldn’t seem out of place at a fraternity house. What would seem out of place at a frat house are the bandmates themselves, who’ve aged too much to play this sort of easygoing music with conviction. Marc Roberge is a Maryland native and Ohio State alum, but he sings like he’s one of the Wailers, coming across like a subpar G. Love in the process. This is suburban middle-aged music dressed up as something younger, something more exotic, something far more street-wise and interesting than it actually is. Pause the beer pong game, bros -- there’s a new O.A.R. album to listen to!
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey