OK Go has always been a unique band. With each album they have somehow managed to redefine entire genres without even batting a single eyelash and they do it in such a way that seems so accidental and casual that they don’t seem like pretentious hipsters. They’re just one of those bands whose sound seemed to be designed to fit in on nearly every single festival line-up from Cochealla to Glastonbury to Reading and Leeds – a shame that they have performed at neither of these festivals. Come on Glastonbury. Get your act together.
Their new album, Hungry Ghosts, is no exception. It has been four years since Ok Go had bought us a full length album, and with the brilliance that was Of the Blue Colour of the Sky – Ok Go may have a tough task topping it. Wait. Who am I kidding? Ok Go systematically tops each album they release but just releasing yet another genre-bending album. The term alternative rock is loosely applied to them simply because they’re nowhere near being indie rock and we haven’t managed to find a label for music that draws from nearly every major genre of music, but that is a story for a different day.
The interesting thing about Hungry Ghosts is the way that it acts as a reflection of all the good things about the modern music scene. You can hear aspects of pop, rock, indie, hip hop and even electro swirling around in the bubbling cauldron that is genre-bending nature of Hungry Ghosts. It is an album that appeals to nearly every music lover, but not in that way that it feels fake and commercial – as if the band is whoring themselves out to the highest bidder. Instead, OK Go subtly crafts their music so that you don’t actually notice the combination of genres – unless you listen intently or read this review.
For instance, the opening track “Upside Down & Inside Out” is layered with guitar riffs, drum sections, synth and pulsating bass. All this sounds pretty ordinary for Ok Go; most fans would be used to this layered musical insanity. It is when you start breaking down each layer that you begin to notice just how each layer seems to reflect a different genere. The guitar riffs have a genuine garage rock feel to them. The synth lines seem to draw influence from aggressive indie pop and a slightly more obscure kind of harsh electro. The underlying bass tones are your typical mainstream radio EDM bass tones while the electronic drums seem to draw influence from electropop.
The “Writing on the Wall” hits you with some hazy indie pop synth lines, hip hop drum samples, 8bit electronic sounds, surf rock vocals and lyrics that seem to correspond with the modern ethos of getting high – but damn are they catchy. I can’t stop singing “The writings on the wall / but I just wanna get you high tonight” to myself, and anybody in my near vicinity. “Another Set of Issues” demonstrates the influence of hip hop and electron on the album – the drum samples sound as if they were drawn straight out of a Twenty One Pilots album and then subdued slightly. The synth lines put one in mind of obscure EDM – the kind that gets called chillstep because it is too white to be considered as deep house
Hungry Ghosts continues in that fashion. It is an eclectic blend of genres that just makes you feel amazing. The songs are instantly catchy and you’ll find yourself grooving along to each song as they gently caress your musical senses. OK Go has always prided themselves on being a rather grandiose answer to the question of how far can we stretch the encompassing embrace of the alternative rock label. Hungry Ghosts is a piece of pure brilliance that deserves to be in every single music lovers iTunes library.