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Music CD Spotlight

Go-getters

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OK Go frontman Damian Kulash doesn't have much use for television. In fact, Kulash's angriest moment on his band's sophomore release, Oh No, comes with the punkish raver "Television, Television," in which he derides the tube as a sensory cesspool that interchangeably feeds us pop stars, cop cars, prom queens, junkies, and soldiers. As he sings in the song's climax: "Give me tits and politicians/give me death and demolition/give me glamour and sedition."

So it's more than slightly ironic that TV has proven to be a savior for this Chicago quartet, via breakthrough video play for the low-budget, comic-choreography clip "A Million Ways." This video imbues the group with a mass-market personality, albeit an off-kilter one, and it's given a second life to an album that, like its self-titled 2002 predecessor, seemed headed for the cut-out bins of history.

In spirit, OK Go share much with fellow Chicagoans Fountains of Wayne: Both bands combine modern guitar crunch with classic pop hooks and a relentlessly sardonic worldview. But for Oh No, OK Go jumped on the dance-rock bandwagon by seeking out Franz Ferdinand producer Tore Johansson. Calculated as the move might be, it works to perfection, giving a rhythmic insistence to tracks that might otherwise settle for pleasantly tuneful. With "Invincible," Kulash tells an ex-girlfriend about the trouble invading aliens will face when they confront the "thousand fahrenheit hot metal lights behind your eyes." Ultimately, he begs her: "Please use your powers for good."

"It's a Disaster" finds the band using every weapon at its disposal - bouncy walking bass line, high backing chirps, and thick guitar licks - and sounding very much like early, blue-album Weezer. But the record's catchiest song is "Here It Goes Again, featuring a sneering Kulash and a guitar riff eerily similar to the early '80s MTV theme snippet. It's an accidental homage from a band still trying to reconcile its hatred of a medium it can't live without.

Gilbert Garcia


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