So then: (Treadmills + YouTube) x VMA Awards = SUCCESS. This is the intricate mathematical formula that sets up the latest offering from YouTube view-kings, OK Go.
Hungry Ghosts is their fourth studio album and their first foray into independence from Capitol Records. Leaping out of what lead singer Damian Kulash describes as ‘a flash in history’s pan’, the band have ditched the big name label and created their own, complete with crowdsourcing, licensing and sponsorship. Not to mention the videos, the latest of which has collected 11+million views and counting.
So with independence comes freedom, and with freedom comes innovation, right? It’s fair to say that Hungry Ghosts has broken the band’s own mould: with heavier use of synths, video game beeps and 80s-driven drums machines, the alt-rock foursome have turned up the indietronica flavor. Not necessarily for the better.
Upside Down and Inside Out and Writing’s On The Wall are strong synth-heavy openers, the latter with a distinct New Order influence. We’re urged to Turn Up The Radio, but this forgettable track doesn’t really provoke the desire to blow up our speakers. The rest of the track list reads like a shopping list of indie mediocrity: arcade sounds and bells annoy in I’m Not Through, while I Won’t Let You Down is a dull disco and If I Had A Mountain and Lullaby are the requisite ballad – or rather, plain shite – tracks.
There are some glimmers of hope: Another Set of Issues is a decent offering with Kulash’s sparse and ghostly falsetto backed by chewy synths. The Great Fire, with its orchestral samples and industrial beats almost evoke an Age of Adz. The result: Hungry Ghosts is only partly listenable, and resolutely in the box. The vids may be extraordinary, but unfortunately the album itself is pretty run of the (tread)mill.