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OK Go - Hungry Ghosts (Review)

OK Go, Hungry Ghosts

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

YOU can sense that you’re going to enjoy the latest album from OK Go pretty much from the very start, as synth bombs explode in giddy fashion around your ear-drums.

The song in question, Upside Down & Inside Out then proceeds to deliver a head-rush of sonic excitement that includes fizzing harmonies, a big chorus and spliced musical arrangements that only serve to heighten your excitement at hearing it. The track is a feel-good ride that sets you up for most of what follows (but we’ll explain more about that in a bit).

The momentum is maintained on the next track, The Writing’s On the Wall, which may chronicle a relationship break-up (and was featured on the soundtrack for The Amazing Spider-Man 2), but which fizzes along amid more bouncy synths, woo-hoo harmonies and catchy choruses. What’s more, there’s a hint of classic New Order about it too.

They even come over funky on several occasions. Firstly, Another Set of Issues drops a lazy beat that’s utterly toe-tapping, complete with a falsetto vocal that laments another seemingly perfect relationship that’s actually nearing its end. It’s stylishly done.

And secondly, there’s the disco-strut of I’m Not Through, which drops the kind of beat that acts like Prince, The Hives or even INXS might like to call their own. And while there are ’80s influences, they somehow seem fresh and far from cheesy. The inclusion of some sharp string arrangements is also a master-stroke.

A couple of tracks further on and the giddy hand-clap beats and Motown-influenced organs of I Won’t Let You Down even add a hint of Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson into the mix, while remaining resolutely hip, contemporary and very much something of OK Go’s own making. It’s another good-time record that effortlessly creates a party vibe, especially once it crosses the minute and 20 second mark. It’s anthemic.

And just when you think things couldn’t get any more giddy or big, The One Moment rides along and outdoes The Killers for the sense of grandiose pop-rock. It’s another gem.

Thereafter, however, the album changes tack completely for the final three songs. If I Had A Mountain strips things back, recalls the falsetto vocals but brings in a sense of longing and melancholy that’s entirely different from what’s come before, but no less compelling. It showcases an altogether different side to OK Go, which is no less interesting.

And this slower sense is maintained through The Great Fire, which uses woozy beats and synths to create a haunting tale that even draws on So-era Peter Gabriel at times (instrumentally), before Lullaby eases you away from the album with a soothing, intimate track that begs you to “go to sleep”. It arrives in stark contrast to the album’s bombastic opening but somehow feels right… you’ll follow its lead and may well be giving out a little yawn or too before it reaches its end.

And therein lies another of the album’s magical touches: it entertains in spades, filling you with emotional highs and then sending you off in a satisfied state of mellowness. What more could you ask for in a record?

Download picks: Upside Down & Inside Out, The Writing’s On The Wall, I’m Not Through, I Won’t Let You Down, The One Moment, Lullaby

Watch the video for Writing’s On The Wall

Track listing:

  1. Upside Down & Inside Out
  2. The Writing’s On the Wall
  3. Another Set of Issues
  4. Turn Up the Radio
  5. Obsession
  6. I’m Not Through
  7. Bright As Your Eyes
  8. I Won’t Let You Down
  9. The One Moment
  10. If I Had a Mountain
  11. The Great Fire
  12. Lullaby