OK Go‘s second album, Oh No, picks up where their fine self-titled debut left off with twelve high-energy and infectious tunes. Producing is Swede Tore Johansson, the same producer of Franz Ferdinand‘s debut. This isn’t surprising as OK Go is in the same au currant mode of rock as Franz Ferdinand. A key difference, however, is that OK Go seems to be having a whole lot more fun making their music.
On Oh No OK Go is swaggering and cool, a la The Strokes; fun but smart, a la Supergrass, and they have a sound that invokes Television and probably The Clash, as well. Furthermore – like any good power-pop band – they are able to harmonize on all sorts of “woo’s” and “ooh’s” without ever sounding wimpy, never an easy feat. In short, this is another very good album.
OK Go first created a groundswell of support for themselves in Chicago with rambunctious, high-powered live shows (and they later received endorsements from NPR personalities Ira Glass and Gretchen Helfrich) and Oh No very much captures that spirit. Hearing these guys’ anthemic call to Crash the Party (“Hey hey hey hey!”) it is hard not to think that this would indeed be a band you would want crashing your party – and there would probably be a lot of young women following them in, too.
I do have to say that after the first five tracks of this album I was not sure if it had that extra something that would push this group to the forefront of the music world, but then the sixth track, It’s a Disaster came on my computer at work and I found myself jumping out of my seat, inappropriately throwing my arms up in the air and singing along out loud, extremely loudly, alarming everybody in my office. This should be their breakout track.
Singer Damian Kulash is a compelling front man: glam-ish with a lot of charisma and even some range. His influences seem a bit obvious at times (e.g. Lenny Kravitz on A Good Idea At The Time Gorillaz Damon Albarn on the chilled-out, spacey A Million Ways and even Prince on Oh Lately It’s So Quiet) but he does it all very well.
The only real complaint is that OK Go’s songwriting is not quite up with the rest of the band’s considerable talents. This is not a huge problem and, in fact, I will be surprised if It’s a Disaster, A Million Ways and Crash the Party are not hits. But it does seem that if the band could allow for a bit more structure amidst all of the fun and games then the songs would gain a little substance. If they accomplished that then I think that they would absolutely graduate to the front of the class, although Oh No might be enough to do that, anyway.
Oh No rocks, it’s fun, and it will undoubtedly get people off of their seats and packing their shows. I’ll be there.