OK Go - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

by Al Brown Rating:5 Release Date:2010-01-12

A band most popular for their admittedly charming, but overplayed dance routines, OK Go are probably looking to shake off that novelty tag. A fairly meat-and-potatoes indie-pop band up to this point, their third album gets off to an inauspicious start: to put it bluntly, opener 'WTF?' is absolutely horrible. It starts off sounding like the U2 song 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me' and somehow only gets worse from there. It's a total mess: ridiculous Prince-pastiche falsetto, meaningless lyrics, cowbells and a twiddly axe solo are the defining features of this rejected Lenny Kravitz b-side. You will pray for it to be over within the first thirty seconds.

Things get better afterwards - they could hardly fail to. 'This Too Shall Pass' sounds like Vampire Weekend-lite (yes, it is possible), it's tuneful but massively over-produced. The vocals are drenched in reverb - as they are throughout the first half of the album - and there is a bludgeoning synthesised drum/bass pattern which seems totally unnecessary (particularly to the band's rhythm section I bet). It's soon apparent that OK Go have been binging on Animal Collective, VW, MGMT et al, their sound now bears all the trademarks: tagged on synths, a slightly apologetic anthemic quality, over-used falsetto and that fucking reverb everywhere.

All this sounds incredibly negative, but at times OK Go do the Noughties Indie Thing quite well. 'Needing/Getting' is a bouncy future indie-disco favourite with the chant-able refrain: "It don't get much dumber/Than trying to forget a girl when you love her". 'White Knuckles' sounds like 'I Would Die 4 U' by Prince to the point where they are probably getting sued but it's still a good song.

Things get less in-your-face as the album progresses: 'Before The Earth Was Round' is a mellow, Air-like number with auto-tuned vocals that actually sound okay. 'Last Leaf' is a charming little acoustic song which seems like the antithesis of those brash, crowded ones earlier on. The album ends on a pair of woozy, dreamy songs: 'While You Were Asleep' and 'In the Glass' which are pretty enough too.

This is a strange album: the first song is so bad it seems impossible that anything of worth could follow. But at some point it turns from an obnoxious, musically cynical record to something with much more integrity and thoughtfulness. The next one will still have to be a major improvement if they don't want to go down in history as the "treadmill band" though.

Alistair Brown

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