Sunday, January 17

An Open Letter to Ok Go

Artist: Ok Go

Of The Blue Colour of the Sky

Dear Ok Go,

Let me just start this letter by making it clear that I wish you nothing but the best. I like you guys. I think you are neat.

Your first two self-titled EPs were two of my favorite things to listen to in high school. Your cover of Adam Ant's "Ant Music" is one of my favorite covers to date. Your self-titled LP, though a little bit too concerned with commercial appeal, was a top-notch collection of well made, clever power-pop. I think that, had your career began in 1995 instead of the early 2000s, you would be kings of the world. I even liked that treadmill video that launched you into the public eye. You guys seem pretty cool.

That being said, what the fuck is happening on Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky?

I mean, what's the motivation behind this new production? You guys are masters of pop-rock, professionals at catchy, hooky, easily digested, fun rock music. That kind of music usually calls for a much cleaner, more straight forward production. This album is all distant and spacey, piled high with fuzzy bass lines, vocal reverb and way too little guitar. It sounds like the bass and drums were recorded in one room, and the rest of it was recorded across the street. Why the disconnect?

Its a shame, too, because I think, had you stuck to a more basic sound, these tracks would be really, really fun. I mean, it isn't as if you guys have forgotten how to write good pop music, buried under all that useless space and echo-y nonsense are some really solid pop tunes. Tracks like "This Too Shall Pass," "Needing / Getting," and especially "Before the Earth Was Round" have great qualities to them, they are just stuck beneath a lot of bad production decisions. Especially "Before the Earth Was Round:" this song would have been a total success if not for the weird, Frampton-esqu talk-box vocals.

Also, I know you guys love the Pixies. I do, too. It's one of the things I like about you. But boo on you for ripping off "Hey" so brazenly on your slightly overlong "Skyscrapers."

I don't understand. You've always struck me as a band with an identify complex, like you wish you cooler than your public perception. Are these sonic changes an effort to appear more "hip" or "indie?" I don't want to discourage you guys from trying to experiment with your music, I just don't think this particular trial worked out.

I mean, it's not like Of The Blue Colour of the Sky is a terrible record, it could just have been a much better one had you guys stayed true to yourselves. It just feels like all the wacky studio noise takes away from what could have been a really fun album.

Nate Adams

Key Tracks: Needed/Getting, This Too Shall Pass, Before the Earth Was Round

Buy, Steal, Skip: Skip


dynamite ham said...

I've had an almost identical response to this CD (except I do dig the vocoded/Frampton vox on that one song.) I like distorted elements within a recording as much as the next guy, but a lot of this record just sounds like the overall signal is clipping--very unpleasant. "White Knuckles" could have been a truly great record, but it just ends up sounding like mud to me, scratchy mud at that.

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