This is the coolest album of 2010. I know it’s just end-February and you have to shore up your shekels for the many rad albums that will be seeping out of their containers down the months ahead. But this is going to be the coolest album of 2010. I could just stop there because frankly, I’ve said pretty much what there is to say about Ok Go’s third and finest album, Of The Blue Colour of the Sky. But stopping here will be seen by some brows-arching schmuck as lack of enthusiasm, so... ho, ho.
The opening track ‘WTF?’ is the falsetto bopper that is super-cooled to make John Travolta and Thom Yorke trade their flashiest moves. Damian Kulash makes the microphone heat up and chill at the same time with the danger of making the instrument crackle and pop into smithereens. The joyousness of 50s style rock’n’roll gets a Chicago-sound lift in ‘This too shall pass’. I had a bitch of a week and when the band breaks into the chorus of “When the morning comes” before “’Cause if your mind don’t move and your knees don’t bend/ well, don’t start blaming the kids again”, I find myself in the throes of a spiritual hard-on.
‘All is not lost’ continues Ok Go’s deceptively playful way of seeing silver linings in big, fat cumulo-nimbus clouds. The sound, like in all the tracks on the album, has a lustre to it that could be the clean production-mix job done in a converted barn in a village in New York or a halo that hangs on all things that are intelligent and passionate.
In ‘Needing/Getting’, some old-style ukelele-style guitar jingling gives way to a thick, heavy gruel of a song. I can smell platform shoes. The buzz of a brimming-with-life bassline from Tim Nordwind on which the train of the guitars run are goosebumps-creating, especially as the track ends the same way minds blink off under a touchy-feely sun next to an after-shave sea.
The Talking Heads would have loved ‘Skyscrapers’ (as should we), a meditation-cum-confession in front of the vertical giants that are the cathedrals of the modern world. The funky soup of ‘White knuckles’ has me with those Jamiraqui moves lined up in my head. Head-banging and ass-shaking haven’t been so joined at the hip for ages. The groove goes deep in ‘I want you so bad I can’t breathe’, and don’t miss the disco fretline move towards the Goldfrapp-friendly hormonal heaves. Sophistication, we are reminded, was always sexy. New Wave flutterings in ‘End love’ take us by the hand and leads me to the immense sadness that lies in all futures of ‘Before the Earth was round’ in which the band makes a moving dessert out of Daft Punk ingredients. ‘Last leaf’ does a folksy trot (sounding like one of those New Yorkers’ home recordings) and moves to the mountain stomp of ‘Back from Kathmandu’. Kulash sounds less like a pot-smoking backpacker and more like an oxygen-deprived Wall Street banker after the Crash escaping into his mind.
‘While you were asleep’ sounds like the soundtrack to a Brothers Grimm tale that ends in someone being smothered with a pillow (the song, not the tale). In the end comes ‘In the glass’, a fairground swirl of a track, the organ-keyboards pressing down like grievous sin. Elegiac, grand, the perfect end to a majestic album that knows how to play the shiny with the dark, the dolled-up with the stark, the cooked with the raw, the roll with the rock.