OK GO’s new EP opens with the mid-tempo track “Turn Up the Radio,” a song about getting down to business with one’s significant other. The idea, I think, is to turn up the radio so your neighbors can’t hear you shagging. “I’ve got to lose myself tonight / So turn off the lights,’ sings Damian Kulash during the rather pop-minded track. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’ll leave you feeling euphoric.
The tempo speeds up considerably with track two, “The Writing’s On the Wall,” for which they’ve recently released a fascinating video that I couldn’t even begin to describe. Well, OK, let’s just say it’s like something Michel Gondry would dream up. It’s like Michel Gondry gone wild. Mind-bending stuff. As for the song itself, it’s bursting with contagious energy and sure to be a big hit at your next party. “It seems like forever since we had a good day,” sings Kulash with lots of hope and a dash of melancholy. “I just want to get you high at night,” begins the triumphant, melancholy-free, feel good chorus.
The band get down and funky on the next tune, “I Won’t Let You Down,” which gives bassist Tim Nordwind plenty of room to shine. Actually, all of the songs on this EP showcase what a marvelous bass player he is. Everyone in the band is quite talented, to be sure, but Nordwind, like, rules, as they would’ve said it when I was in high school. This track calls to mind J. Geil’s Band circa “Freeze Frame,” which had a pretty innovative video. Not as innovative as OK GO’s videos are, but still. It’s certainly one of the ’80’s best and most memorable videos. Anyway, “I Won’t Let You Down” gives one the feeling that this is a band you can believe in. It’s like they’re saying, you can always depend on us, we’re not going to put out shit like most bands end up doing by this point in their careers.
The final track, “The One Moment,” is the only luke warm track on the EP. It’s got bounce and it’s clearly well-written, but it doesn’t feel as well produced as the other songs. To that end, it’s the vocals that especially suffer, as their are parts when Kulash sounds a bit faint and this is especially true of the chorus, which, if anything, ought to be louder than the verses. Instead of hooking you, it dares to defy the previous track and let you down, if only slightly.
Ultimately, all four of these tracks are catchy tunes and the first three could fare well on rock and college radio. Without a bad song on it, Upside Out should keep their fans quite happy until their next album. I would just caution them not to make “The One Moment” a single unless they remix it and beef up the vocals, something I wish they would do even if they don’t release it as a single.