September 27, 2002

Test Spin: OK Go

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When an album begins with a Queen-esque bass drum/hand clap intro, you can be pretty sure you’re in store for some good ol’ power-pop. In lead singer, Damian Kulash, we have a rock star on our hands. But he also happens to be a Brown semiotics graduate; so, mix rock with a savvy knowledge of the intricacies of pop culture, and you get, well, They Might Be Giants. But if you take away the accordion and a lot of the humor, and then mix what’s left with the retro-trend of the hour, Weezer’s guitar riffs, and lots of vocal harmonies, you get these Chicagoans. OK? I’ll go on.

OK Go sound so familiar that the melodies were in your head before you even heard them. Maybe they’re left over from the ’80s, maybe your Cheap Trick collection. Perhaps they were cooked up in Brown’s semiotics lab. It’s the songs’ self-aware irony that makes many of them appealing. The titles alone say much: “You’re So Damn Hot” and the standout “C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips” (both of which bring back those clapping hands). Kulash’s vocal versatility may be the most notable, and possibly the least cohesive, thing about OK Go. He shouts