Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
(Capitol Records; 2010)
Chicago foursome OK Go step into new musical territories with their latest release Of the Blue Colour of the Sky. The band’s third record is a truly unique collection of tracks that shed the powerpop label they had attached to them.
If you were expecting a linear movement from OK Go’s previous album, Oh No, and this one, consider yourself warned. The first track on the album, aptly titled “WTF?,” might sum up your thoughts upon hearing the album for the first time. Fans who became familiar with the sounds of the band’s previous albums will definitely be shocked as new influences are fleshed out in Of the Blue Colour of the Sky.
The second track, “This Too Shall Pass,” has a moment 8212; a stripped-down minute 8212; featuring just the stroke of a mallet on a xylophone key and a choir of voices harmonizing making it vaguely reminiscent of the Arcade Fire’s vocal set up.
Another standout track, “Needing/Getting,” begins with an electric guitar solo that is at once frantic and effortlessly cool.
By the fourth track, any trace of the old OK Go is erased, and its cooler, more psychedelic incarnation has taken over, obliterating any trace of their former selves.
“Skyscrapers” is unforgettable as lead vocalist Damian Kulash’s sweet falsetto mixes with the calm, haunting instrumental arrangement. This is arguably the track with the most borrowed influences, with hints of Prince’s style weaved throughout the groovy guitars and funky beats.
“I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe” is another gem. The lyrics spin a tale of a longing romance on the subway in New York City. It’s a sexy and sultry song among the grit and dirt of Manhattan’s underbelly.
One of the album’s only flaws is its length. Clocking it at over 50 minutes with 13 tracks, the first half of the record is clearly the strongest, which leaves the last part feeling a bit full of filler tracks. Had the band cut the number of tracks to a lean 10 or 11, the album could have been tighter and felt like a unified production.
Of the Blue Colour of the Sky shows OK Go’s serious maturation both as musicians and as lyricists. Drawing inspiration from both Prince and the Pixies, the record has a calmer, more effortless sound. The arrangements, which in previous efforts could be described as a bit juvenile, sound fuller and better thought out.
Trial Track: “WTF?”