CD Review: OK GO / Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
OK Go Rating:
Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
Reviewed by: Ryan Labbe
Growing up, I never paid much attention to producers and their roles in the recording process. It has only been the past ten years or so that I have come to realize how a producer can affect the sound of a band, or more appropriately, why a band finding itself going in a certain direction would select a specific producer. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when OK Go announced they had tapped Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Phantom Planet, Thursday) to produce their third full length album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, that we could expect a departure from the quirky pop music, such as the hits “Get Over It” and “A Million Ways.”
This was confirmed in November 2009, when OK Go released the single “WTF”, which is also the album’s opener. Fans might find themselves asking “WTF” upon first listen, as OK Go has traded in their tightly wound sound for a more loosely constructed style; thick beats courtesy of Dan Konopa, wandering guitar melodies, striking keyboard rhythms provided by Andy Ross, and Tim Nordwind’s rich bass lines, all providing the backdrop to singer Damien Kulash’s clever, yet reverb drenched vocals. The very first line of the song is, “I’m trying to get my head around what the f*ck is happening.” Perhaps a fitting sentiment for those soaking in OK Go’s new sound. Thankfully, they make the transition effortless.
My personal favorite on the album is “Before the Earth was Round,” a simplistic blend of off-tempo drumming and static rhythms, while the vocals, sounding more like a keyboard or synthesizer than voice, weave an eerie, yet optimistic, melody. It is followed by the stripped down acoustic “Last Leaf,” an especially enjoyable song that finds Kulash both vulnerable and confident.
“While You Were Asleep” is a hauntingly dreamy number that offsets more upbeat numbers like Prince-inspired tracks “White Knuckles” and “End Love” complete with falsetto vocals and upbeat rhythms daring you not to dance.
The bass-driven “All is Not Lost” is another high point, with Nordwind and Konopka pounding out the rhythm as Kulash assures, “just remember when the tide rolls in/can’t be too long before it rolls back out.”
The albums final track, “In the Glass”, opens with a trudging rhythm that borrows from fellow alt rockers Flaming Lips. The piano provides the rhythm in the verse as Kulash sings, “When I got here everything was cold and perfect.” The chorus is a full catchy melody and sounds like a throwback to 2005’s Oh No, in the best way.
As a whole, OK Go’s latest effort evokes thoughts of a myriad of artists, from Prince to Flaming Lips with a little Radiohead thrown in for good measure. Ironically, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky sounds least like…well, OK Go – at least as we’ve previously known them. They’ve switched out their pop rock for funky rhythms and their clean vocals for reverb, but the core elements are still there: whimsical, thought provoking lyrics and fun, dynamic music. It’s a new decade and a new OK Go.
For more info on OK Go visit their website
Watch the band’s latest video for “This Too Shall Pass” below: