Call it a cheeky send-up of kitsch-pop, a faithful homage to Queen, Joan Jett, Cheap Trick, the Cars, and Adam Ant. Call it whatever you want, but OK Go’s major label debut is just plain good. Lead singer Damian Kulash and his cohorts in pop larceny (bassist Tim Norwind, guitarist/keyboardist Andrew Duncan, and drummer Dan Konopka) have manufactured a massively enjoyable collection of slyly irreverent, highly contagious rockin’ pop tunes guaranteed to shake you out of your Top 40 doldrums and lead you hand-clapping and foot-stomping onto the dance floor. Though fun and smartly constructed, OKGo’s brand of hook-heavy, retro-slanted music is hardly new. Hell, the Windy City boys routinely reference past “cheese-pop” icons as the inspirational basis for most of their songs. The band’s Ant-Music, coy-boy shrieks (“Don’t Ask Me”), energetic Ocasek synth-riffs (“You’re So Damn Hot”), and sneaky asides to Queen (“What to Do,” “The Fix Is In”), is pure idolatry of the most deferential kind. Yet without going over the top (with the exception of the cutesy “C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips”), OK Go takes the listener on a campy and finely executed voyage across the general pop landscape, with stopovers at anthem-inducing stadium rock, dreamy, melodic pop, clever glances at the Cure (“There’s a Fire”), and sideway nods to the Beach Boys and Pink Floyd (“Shortly Before the End”). By melding the adrenalinized mania of retro-guitar pop with the more intricate synthesizer/organ-infused tones of post-punk new wave, OK Go has achieved something intelligent, widely accessible and constantly fun. That, in and of itself, makes this disc one to cherish.
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