There was the choreography of the videos for "Here It Goes Again" (the treadmill one) and "A Million Ways," both of which remain YouTube sensations. There's also their infectious power pop that we've now heard on two albums.
With the release of "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky" Tuesday on Capitol Records, they showed off a different brand of energy. This time, it's danceable.
"It's not so much that we headed in a new direction," singer and guitarist Damian Kulash said. "I think we've just expended the guitar-rock ideas from our teens and we're starting to get at more root-level influences. There's a lot of "Purple Rain" on this record -- an album I haven't stopped listening to since I got it when I was 11."
A classic on the level of "Purple Rain" it is not, but the influence is certainly strong. From the opener "WTF?", the new record displays a newfound funkiness. The songs are driven by beats, keyboards, synths and various other sounds. The guitar work is there and it remains strong, but it's more complementary this time around.
Besides the opener, the driving beats continue on a strong middle section that includes "Skyskrapers," "White Knuckles," "I Want You So Bad I Can't Breathe" and "End Love." Of these, the irresistible grooves of "White Knuckles" and the '80s feel of "End Love" are the strongest moments.
Another strong, if less club-worthy track is "This Too Shall Pass." The song holds an anthemy grandeur well beyond it's running time of 3:08. It's refrains of "When the morning comes" and "Let it go/This too shall pass," beg to be screamed by thousands at concerts for years to come.
The album isn't without its less inspiring moments, though. While the first eight songs are solid throughout, things drop off seriously over the final third of the album. Of the final five tracks, only the acoustic ballad "Last Leaf" is worthy of much note.
What's difficult to tell is if the re-ordering of tracks would have avoided this closing lull. Would a few small adjustments have helped the weaker tracks or taken the gusto out of the stronger numbers?
Questions like these make this an average record, not anything earth-shattering.
My spin: C+
OK Go is a very good band for reasons that go way beyond inventive videos. At moments, they show it on "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky." At others, the music is uninspired.
This album is worth a purchase for those already into the band. It's also a great listen for anyone who appreciates a rock band dipping its toes into the funk realm.
But for those slightly less interested, a few downloads might be a better place to start. "White Knuckles," "This Too Shall Pass," lead single "WTF?" and "End Love" are some good ones to start with.
I think this band has outstanding records in it; I'd just like to see a bit more consistency.
Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Released: Jan. 12 on Capitol Records
OK Go is: Damian Kulash-vocals, guitar; Tim Nordwind-bass; Dan Konopka-drums; Andy Ross-guitar, keys
Producer: Dave Fridmann