When thinking about OK Go, it's hard not to let your mind first wander to treadmills and contraptions that are made up to look like real life versions of Mouse Trap. But after 17 years and four albums, there is a first class power pop/rock band behind the novelty. Coming four years after Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, Hungry Ghosts represents the effortless fun that the band have displayed and exceled in since coming on the scene.
After rather publicly leaving their major label, Capitol Records, for their own label Paracadute, Hungry Ghosts symbolises a rather disobedient independent group. Their electronic influence is more prominent in this new LP than previous releases, with a lack of heavy synths. We are treated to some rather disco-inclined tracks and the occasional classic power pop-esque OK Go sound.
Kicking off with ‘Upside Down & Inside Out’ you are instantly knocked back to the band's lighter and flippant routes. They go all out rocking with the chorus, blasting out with maximum power. Flaunting huge guitars, drums and distorted vocals, the whole track screams synth power pop. But then it takes a slow turn when the volume drops, and the main focus is on Damian Kulash's vocals with just a hint of synth to accompany him. It's a whirlwind track of contrast to get you in the mood for what else is to come.
‘The Writing's on the Wall’ is a satisfyingly melodic euphoric track. A breezy and ethereal pop treasure that effortlessly makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A similar track is ‘The Great Fire’, but the more full-on synth mixes together a subdued bass and laser type sounds and brings the mood right down. ‘Another Set of Issues’ brings in a darker edge with rumbling bass synths which sets the scene for the much happier and carefree ‘Turn up the Radio’. Similar to ‘Upside Down & Inside Out’ in that it is much more flippant and a power piece, it's not a memorable track, but the quieter verses with Kulash's vocals coupled with a catchy synth bass help pull it together.
Next up is the sly and creepish ‘Obsession’. The arrangement of eerie distorted guitar and synth tones along with Kulash's vocals, the cowbell and a “stop-and-go” chorus really pull this track together to make it a memorable one for the LP. Now flip the tone and we have ‘I'm Not Through’, the funky track is scattered with ‘80s video game synths and falsetto vocals, but doesn't quite stand out. Disco it is, but it's missing that OK Go edge. ‘Bright as Your Eyes’ takes us back down a tone to begin with, it starts out with fluctuating synth moans but eventually bursts out into a nice cheesy track with Kulash singing “They will never shine brightly as your eyes.”
The revitalisation of this LP comes from ‘I Won’t Let You Down’, straight into disco, it is more energised and brings a breath of fresh air. It's a nice change of pace and the video for it is pretty damn ass cool, what with four grown men rolling around on high-tech one wheeled scooters.
And now let's change the pace once again with ‘The One Moment’. The alt-rock track which reminds you of an anthem-esque tune that could get a crowd going at a festival. Now you would think this is where the album would finish off, since such an epic track would be the climatic finale… well no, it's not, there are still three tracks to go.
‘If I Had a Mountain’ is soft and straightforward. Kulash's vocals drive the track and brings you back down to earth after the previous tracks’ escapades. Since ‘The Great Fire’ has already been discussed, let’s fast forward to the actual finale, ‘Lullaby’. This is the perfect ending. After an album full of various sounds and synths, this acoustic lullaby is simply a nice way to finish off. Not as epic as 'The One Moment' could have been, but nice.
This whole album has been an experiment with electric and “glitchy” sounds. Maybe not as captivating as Of the Blue Colour of the Sky was to some, but Hungry Ghosts showcases OK Go’s versatility and their typical creative flair. There are plenty of strong tracks - despite the few that just fall short - and generally a solid album that will please both old and new fans of the band.