Sound — 7
Chicago-based quartet OK Go have changed a great deal about their music from their previous record Oh No to their latest recording Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky. The new record is less raw and more club oriented. The songs have a power pop vitality reminiscent of Hellogoodbye with streaks of glam rock sparks corked by splashing club beats that form a type of Prince/Daft Punk party mix. The swirling sonic masses produced by keyboardist/guitarist Andy Ross are roped in coils of funky club beats by bassist Tim Nordwind and drummer Dan Konopka, as vocalist Damian Kulash mounts the electro-fused grooves demonstrating a familiarity that is jolting like he was weaned on this music since childhood. Tracks like This Too Shall Pass and All Is Not Lost are abound with sonic spires, trippy piping, shoegazy atmospherics, and chiming percussions. The shimmery glaze of Needing/Getting is coaled in whipping sonic effects that are welded to throbbing club beats and wrapped in eerie guitar distortions through the outro of the track. Kulash's falsettos in WTF? press against the chunky synth-textured guitars forming taut squeezes and ridges as the band skewers the R&B tunage harking of vintage Prince with pop-punk spears. The bands track Skyscrapers is laden with marching percussive strikes but Kulash's flexing falsettos are drawn out far too long. The album traverses into a plume of neo-disco synthy effects and flashing rattles in White Knuckles reflective of Prince when he was with his band The Revolution. The music may feel new to OK Go but the songs sound like they came from the archives of 80s new wave or 90s acid-pop/psychedelic rock. There is so much in OK Go's new songs that sound like they have been rehashed from the obscure tracks of marginally known bands in the past like the Dandy Warhols and Ambulance LTD, particularly in the dance mix of End Love. The track Before The Earth Was Round has a Hot Chip-slant in its idiosyncratic twists which adjusts to a heavy bass line threading through I Want You So Bad I Cant Breathe and strands of cryptic echoes in the undertow of Back From Kathmandu projecting a daunting feel through the tune. The songs sound like music that the band may have grown up with rather than music that reflects their own ideas. For instance, the infliction of orchestral gales along While You Were Asleep and the moaning chimes cabling In The Glass make these songs overly processed, but the folksy sonnet Last Leaf is an exception to this rule. The song's calming strokes in the acoustic guitar and Kulash's natural voicing are breathy and lush without over doing it. Oftentimes, the songs are loaded with too much artificial fillers but when the band turns to a natural voicing like in Last Leaf, it actually feels more pleasant and palatable.
Lyrics — 7
Many times Kulash's singing is over the top and too dramatized to pick up the lyrics which takes away from the words, but when he uses his natural voicing, the lyrics become meaningful like in Last Leaf when he tells, If you should be the last autumn leaf hanging from the tree / I'll still be here, waiting on the breeze to bring you down to me / And if it takes forever / Forever it'll be. Other times, the lyrics are less obvious and more symbolic like in Skyscrapers as Kulash beckons, Skyscrapers, please forgive me / I didn't mean a word I said / Skyscrapers, I was just tangled up in my own head / And somehow in all the madness / I thought that I was seeing straight.. So skyscrapers please forgive me / I stand here a penitent man / Oh skyscrapers, I'll never look down again, again / Cuz I guess all I've ever known was standing right before my eyes. The lyrics are poetic and personalized and relate to people on a metaphorical level.
Overall Impression — 7
OK Go's new album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky is not supplied with necessarily new material but the music seems familiar to the band. Sometimes the tracks end up too gaudy, but when the bands music has a simplistic cutting, the foursome really sound their best. OK Go sound like they have discovered their limitations much like The Killers and the Kaiser Chiefs, but they will always have their hit songs Here It Goes Again and A Million Ways to fall back on for as long as OK Go keep going.