They’ve explored their boundaries, unconfined by audience expectations.
Chris Lo 2010-01-13
OK Go have been scratching at the walls of stardom for the better part of a decade. The band’s welcoming brand of power pop ought to have seen them join Weezer, Teenage Fanclub and The Postal Service in blaring out across college campuses the world over. But despite building up a solid fanbase in the US and Europe since the 2002 release of debut single Get Over It, OK Go have remained an unusual pop proposition – a band with a mainstream sound, but without a mainstream audience.
This might be partly explained by the phenomenal success of OK Go’s music videos, the choreographed, treadmill-hopping ingenuity of which have made them an online sensation. But while the videos (along with an eye-catching performance at the 2006 MTV VMAs) have raised the band’s profile, they may have also resulted in the band being recognised more as a YouTube sensation than a proper musical outfit.
OK Go’s third album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, is a determined attempt to create a collection of tracks as catchy and memorable as those music videos. The band’s lack of a defining musical style has proven an advantage here, as frontman Damian Kulash and co. were clearly able to explore their boundaries, unconfined by audience expectations.
And explore they do. From the 80s synth-balladry of End Love, which could almost have been recorded by Rick Astley (in a good way, somehow), to Skyscrapers’ weary blues-funk, in which Kulash’s gravelly falsetto finds a cosy space between Prince and Black Francis, OK Go are shooting from the hip here. Luckily, the band hit their marks in most cases, and the tracks are united by an eminent danceability and Dave Fridmann’s expansive production.
Surprisingly, there aren’t as many huge choruses here as one might expect from a band as inclusive as OK Go. But, truth be told, there are probably enough huge choruses in the world, and this dancefloor-baiting synth-funk sound seems like a more exciting direction for the band. One gets the feeling that, while this probably won’t be remembered as OK Go’s masterpiece, it might be fondly recalled as the moment the band stopped chasing the power pop dream in favour of unlocking their own brand of pop power.