OK Go, 'Of the Blue Colour of the Sky' (Capitol)

7
Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Critical Mass
Label: Capitol

by Barry Walters

OK Go sidestepped fame's figurative treadmill by riding several real ones to YouTube-assisted stardom. The fastidious choreography for the video clips of "A Million Ways" and "Here It Goes Again" exploited the schism between the quartet's indie-geek eccentricity and pop's manufactured synchronicity with such fluency that even fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama professed his admiration. These balding wise guys outdanced the boy bands with audacity and meticulous timing.

For this similarly ambitious third album, the now Los Angeles–based foursome apply their trademark exactitude to another pair of contrasting genres -- Prince's sexy synth-funk and the Flaming Lips' elaborate dream-rock. Unlike Beck during his purple-paisley Midnite Vultures phase, Damian Kulash employs a soul-freak falsetto that's sincerely accurate, and with the help of Lips producer David Fridmann, he and his power-pop pals master the Okie pranksters' baroque whirls.

On "Before the Earth Was Round," Kulash frets over unpredictable skies that mirror his beloved's wavering commitment, while Fridmann hangs a widescreen psych-pop canvas. Guitarist-keyboardist Andy Ross brings chamber-pop prettiness to the album's contemplative final tracks, but it's the band's other stealth weapon that ultimately has the biggest impact -- the ridiculously punchy rhythm section of bassist Tim Nordwind and drummer Dan Konopka, who ably propelled the band's previous dance moves. Here, they explode with the force of a polyrhythmic fireworks display, celebrating the art of borrowed yet blissful noise.

WATCH: OK Go, "This Too Shall Pass"

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