I can't help but feel that OK Go's self-titled Capitol debut would have sounded so much better if it hadn't been recorded -- formulated might be a better word -- to sound like every other mainstream garage-rock-by-way-of-new-wave record out there these days. If the production wasn't so facelessly, seamlessly perfect. If those handclaps on track three ("You're So Damned Hot") weren't so canned.
No matter how innocuously chirpy and good time-y this album is, and despite its potential to lodge its formidable hooks in my noggin, it initially does nothing more for me than to reiterate the alarming homogeneity found in modern commercial rock. The writing is solid and smart, if a tad smug. Frontman Damian Kulash's affected vocal delivery takes a little getting used to (although those Beatle-esque harmonies go down easily). Probably the best line comes during the catchy chorus of "What To Do" as Kulash croons, "Sweetheart, you'll find/ Mediocre people do exceptional things all the time." I would agree. Except that this is a case of mediocrity across the board.
Though there are a few hidden jewels to be found on OK Go (the beautifully introspective "Shortly Before the End" is one), if you're looking for cutting-edge sounds to put the relevance back into this never-say-die popular music convention, you shouldn't be looking here. For one thing, the next revolution in rock will certainly never occur on Capitol or any of its high-profile, high-grossing, product-slinging brethren. Nope. I can't tell you where it will come from (or when), but it's almost an immutable law of nature that it won't come from the shiny towers of LA or NYC. It will most likely bust out of some backwater like Aberdeen or Stockton or Hoboken or Athens -- where the kids are hungry, and where they listen more to the voices in their heads than to MTV and commercial radio propaganda. The majors are reactionary, pure and simple. They are never at the vanguard. The fact is, they ignore innovation until it can demonstrate sufficient sales potential. By the time that happens, all that's left for the A & amp;R men to mine are the carbon copy automatons willing to produce watered-down facsimiles of once potent sounds for their greedy corporate overlords to toss like chum to the masses.
If, on the other hand, you're fine with sloppy seconds, by all means buy, buy, buy. Rest assured, Ok Go is prefab fabulous. Perfectly compliant with current trends. Perfectly harmless. Perfectly forgettable. Hell, I've forgotten it already.