OK Go teamed up with Tore Johansson to produce their latest, Oh No, and
it sounds exactly like you think it does: a flashier, bouncier version of Franz
Ferdinand. This isn’t bad thing, at least while the hooks are coming. But that’s
always been OK Go’s problem, the whole keeping-the-hooks-coming thing. When
they’re on, they’re dead on, and just try resisting them. But they never seem to
know when they’ve gone too far, and suddenly the goings are no longer cute and
fun, but slightly annoying.
The first half of the album is promising enough, much like the band’s debut.
Leadoff track “Invincible” will draw people in simply because the sound is so
drastically different than what we’ve come to expect from OK Go. It’s leaner,
harder, more muscular, even though the band’s style of dress in the album
artwork is even poofier than before. There are still keyboard parts, but they
aren’t as in yer face as they were on “Get Over It” and “You’re So Damn Hot.” As
makeovers go, it’s a good one.
But it’s not flawless. Like their debut, Oh No is top heavy, with all of
the single candidates popping up back to back in the first 20 minutes, likely in
an attempt to make the listener forget how, well, forgettable the back half of
the album is. For every first-half track like the swell “A Good Idea at the
Time,” which is a line-for-line response to “Sympathy for the Devil,” there’s a
back-half track like the grating “Television Television,” where lead singer
Damian Kulash goes all Jason Mraz and talks us to death over a beat that the
Futureheads surely have patent pending. The one exception to the second half
slump is the closer “The House Wins,” where the band wisely drops gears and
trades in the cuteness in exchange for a dose of melancholy.
OK Go are just what they appear to be: a good band with an exaggerated sense of
self. They’re not going to change the world, but they’re not going to speed up
the decline of Western civilization, either. Oh No is mostly catchy, fun
pop rock, and anyone who wants more from them is simply being unreasonable. If
you want a pop record with some substance to it, try the