When writing a music review I don’t think it’s right to talk about the artists music videos – however OK Go are a special case. Their clever, dynamic and mind-boggling videos are usually a sight to behold (my personal favourite being for track Needing/Getting – featuring music being made through cars and various things on a race track) and show off the bands arty dexterity and penchant for originality. New album Hungry Ghosts carries on this tradition with an optical illusion-laden video for the latest single, but does the actual music manage to be as inventive and stylish?
Right, with all the video talk out the way, lets get down to it. Hungry Ghosts carries on in the same vein as previous album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, opting for a more electronic/synth sound, but mixing this flawlessly with a rock melody. They’ve honed their skills, drawing on material from their career, and it really has created something settled rather than a transition like the last album. Opener Upside Down & Inside Out is the best example of mixing electronic with rock, as the huge sounds backed up by melancholy sections join forces with lead singer Damian Kulash’s vocals cutting through with sweet and subtle lyrics: ‘When you met the new you, did someone die inside?’
Kulash shows off his lyrical skills often on the record, noticeably in fine form on latest single The Writings on the Wall, as he tells a tale of love at the end of its tether, and the fearful struggle of leaving a relationship. You can hear a bit of The Cure in there, and along with its flowing rhythms and hooks, its one of those songs that gets stuck in your head without you realising. Obsession shows us again what great imagery OK GO are able to muster in the listeners head, as the song delves into the emotion the track’s named after, giving you a sordid feeling as it weaves its magic: A look so quick, a movement so slight you could almost imagine it didn’t just happen’.
The band is on creative form here and the edgy electronic sound is a definite step forward in progression from their earlier albums. Kulash’s borrowing of Prince style music and vocals is back on Another Set of Issues with a huge and eclectic electro-bass buzz, whereas I won’t let you go is a piece of 80’s pop loveliness that wonders into new territory for the band.
Although they seem to do everything so effortlessly, there are a couple of minor slipups. The One Moment really sounds like a slimmed down version of Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody with less appeal, and Lullaby isn’t the best track to end the album on; it doesn’t really fit in with the albums aesthetic. These are but minor blips however, and the rest of the record more than makes up for it.
Hungry Ghosts shows a band secure in their ways and knowing where they’re going. This being the second release from their own label really shows, as it feels laboured and loved – a piece of art rather than a set of songs. Just like their videos, their work ethic, intelligence and imagination comes through on the record, and it’s their most balanced effort to date.