Many musical theorists squeeze every last synonym and simile into the debate over whether good rock can be irreverent, or irreverent rock good. To this conundrum, one should check one's hips and lips, and if both are moving, who the fuck cares. Chicago's OK GO has tortured purists by performing boy-band steps and Les Miserables onstage, but its eponymous debut showcases classic pop fuzz that is oh-so-convertible-friendly. Handclaps and trashy guitar introduce "Get Over It," the first single -- Damian Kulash's syncopated scats build to a come-on-in-the-melody's-great chorus and Seventies-frequency keyboards (fun rock's answer to West Coast hip-hop's Moog?). Kulash's ease with rhetoric is OK GO's most distinctive quality -- "You're So Damn Hot" may be rock's most enigmatic song title since AC/DC's "Let Me Put My Love Into You," and "What To Do" offers the LP's greatest couplet: "Mediocre people do exceptional things all the time/Could've been a genius if you had an ax to grind." And music theorists analyzing the forlorn lyrics atop the Cheap Trick harmonies and waltzing percussion of "Bye Bye Baby" should know it's about Kulash's high school cat that ran away and ended up in a cat food ad (true story).
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Shawn Bean