OK Go: ‘Oh No’ Track-by-Track Album Review

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OK Go released their eighth album, Hungry Ghosts on October 14th and is currently touring all over the continental U.S. The alternative rock, power pop four piece (comprised of Damian Kulash on lead vocals, guitar, Tim Nordwind on bass guitar and vocals, Dan Konopka on drums and percussion, and Andy Ross on guitar, keyboards and vocals, who joined them in 2005, replacing Andy Duncan), is known for the innovative and Grammy award winning music videos they create for their songs.

“Invincible” opens the album with that classic rock recording ruse that sounds like a rehearsal caught on tape, drumsticks clicking, guitar being plugged into amp creating slight feedback before lead singer Damian Kulash kicks off the righteous power pop rock that continues throughout Oh No. “Do What You Want” maintains the thrash-y, stomping rock fest albeit with a few too many “come ons!” shouted throughout the breakdown two-thirds of the way through. You could still potentially add this to your replay list, though, thanks to the arrangement. The guitar riff is chunky, recalling a bit of Franz Ferdinand, but rock is supposed to be clumsy and dirty, so it works.

“Here It Goes Again” brings visions of treadmills swirling into your head. Despite the hilarious and clever music video, the track itself is a little simplistic, with the lyrics going not as deep as hoped and the music unvarying. “A Good Idea at the Time” opens like a classic Brit rock song, with a guitar riff and drum beat perfectly suited to each other. Complete with tambourine and horns, and the right number of “Come ons,” this time around, this song makes you bob your head like the good punk rocker you are. And like most good punk rock songs, it will leave you in a better mood than you started out in.

“Oh Lately It’s So Quiet” is a softer, falsetto-driven shuffle of a ballad in which Kulash allows himself to come across as vulnerable. Definitely not a tear-jerker, the hand claps and rhythm guitar keep the tune upbeat and positive despite the sad topic. Lyrics like “Whose house are you haunting tonight?” don’t bring good things to mind, but the song by no means kills the album’s cheerful vibe. “It’s a Disaster” brings back in the edgy, punk rock tone that recalls Weezer with “woo oohing” backup vocals. The chorus of “It’s a disaster / It’s an incredible mess / But it’s all we’ve got now / Yeah it’s all we got,” definitely have a strong sing-along quality to them, making the track a must-repeat.

“A Million Ways” has a disco backbeat, with a three-chord structure, and classic, high 70’s style guitar riffs. As the album’s first single, this track is packed with dancey pop hooks presented in OK Go’s post-dance-punk style. “No Sign of Life” is the token bluesy track nearly every contemporary rock album strives to include. True to blues, the lyrics tell more of a story: “Kate broke down on Division Street / Air so wet you can hear your heart beat, and beat and beat and beat and beat / Oh, I swear I gave it my best shot, what else could I do? / No sign of life.” More interesting than some other tracks whose lyrics repeat a single phrase throughout (ahem, I’m looking at you, “Here It Goes Again”).

“Let It Rain” starts with acoustic guitar rhythm before the electric lead brings Kulash’s soft, feathery vocals in. The lyrics flow in a kind of Dylan-esque way that doesn’t quite meld with the theme on the rest of Oh No, but nevertheless contribute to the record’s poeticism. “Crash the Party” returns to the Supergrass type of Brit rock party sound. A fun, playfully enticing track, it will get you amped before, during, and after any party. Again, the sound is akin to Franz Ferdinand (which stands to reason, since Tore Johansson, who produced Franz Ferdinand, also produced Oh No).

“Television, Television” is a pop-punk political statement on the disappointing aspects of much of Western culture. “Television, television / give me tits and politicians / give me death and demolition / give me glamour and sedition / television!” Kulash screams over a heavily distorted guitar solo. “Maybe, This Time” is a slower, low-down, groove that strolls along as Kulash softly sings in a low voice. The bass never stops walking under the arrangement of piano, xylophone, and electric guitar. With serious lyrics addressed to that someone who has to always be right, Kulash nicely tries to point out that, “Don’t you think that maybe, this time, you were wrong?”  making this track a hidden jewel within Oh No.

“The House Wins,” driven by pounding piano, and sustained octave hits, distorted fuzz guitar going bezerk during the solo, it has some psychedelic noir elements to it. “9027 KM” is the hidden track that silently plays for nearly thirty-five minutes. A few muffled sounds footsteps and giggles precede sporadic clips of music. Overall, the album is a punky-party ride-along ideal for dancing and singing along to.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Lyrics
Voice
Music
Originality
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