Sunday , October 25 2020
Tired of waiting for the Fountains of Wayne to flow? Well, OK Go may just hold you for a while. . .


Among new bands, it’s tough to beat OK Go in the Apt Names Department. It sounds just like it sounds like: short and punchy, a smidgeon of adolescent aggressiveness tempering yer basic pop-rock friendliness. All very guitar-&-keyboardy in the manner of new wave giants, the Cars (and their lesser known but no less tuneful contemporaries, 20/20), as filtered through the deceptively soft harmonics of more modern cult faves like Wondermints. Music for those too cool-whipped to admit they actually kinda like the way the new Avril Lavigne single sounds.
The band’s eponymous debut disc happily runs all over the pop-rock landscape: handclap drumming, studio airiness, chomping guitar chords, soaring keyboard flourishes, falsetto backing vocals. When lead Damian Kulash drives “10,000 Miles An Hour,” you know he’s doing it on Utopia Parkway; when the band’s guitars start to get fuzzy & noisy around a “sing me a song” chorus, you start to wonder if Blur’s Graham Coxon snuck into the studio. “You’re So Damn Hot” opens like the Cars’ “Just What I Needed,” only it’s more sneering in its description of a conscienceless “boy trap.” The band even ventures into more openly quirky pop realms of Barenaked Ladies (“There’s A Fire”) and TMBG (“Hello, My Treacherous Friends”) without surrendering the fatal cutesiness of either group at their weakest.
In short, OK Go is just the kind of accessa-pop you play incessantly when you first get it – then may or may not keep in rotation once the newness has worn off. Lyrically, most of the disc revolves around the heartbreak of twenty-something singlehood (not much different from such Midwestern forerunners as Shoes, say, or Material Issue) with a predilection for the arch putdown (“Compassion’s just a nicer way of looking down your nose.”) Might get irritating over repeated releases, but not ’til the third or fourth album, I reckon. For power pop junkies already weary of the tin-can studio sounds & gravelly adenoids of the neo-garagers, OK Go could be just what they needed.

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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