AJR
OK Orchestra


1.0
awful

Review

by Jack Mancuso CONTRIBUTOR (54 Reviews)
March 26th, 2021 | 56 replies


Release Date: 03/26/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Rage. Fury. Irritation. Humiliation." - Squidward Tentacles

My dreams have become increasingly vivid ever since I was young, to the point where I’ve learned to control them. Nightmares have essentially become a thing of the past, but when I lose control of my dream, fear and adrenaline can take the wheel rather quickly. This is especially apparent in the one recurrent dream I can never seem to escape. It begins with me being framed a la Shawshank for a heinous crime that I didn’t commit, but certainly wish I had. I am briskly whisked away to a maximum security prison, where I am briskly frisked by the guards. They chuck me like yesterday’s trash into my new cell, where I discover my cellmate is named Randy Dongtouch, a name he absolutely lives up to. Every second of this horror show of a dream is preferable to the 45 minutes of my life I spent listening to OK Orchestra.

Let’s start with our regularly scheduled mish-mash of every track to follow, “OK Overture”. The AJR brothers have miraculously enlisted the lady from Boards of Canada’s “The Devil Is In The Details” to introduce us to the intended thematic arc of the album, which has absolutely no flow, egregiously misused autotune, and one of the most horrific key changes I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are still terrible, and there’s enough vocal chop to impress the DJ from your 2011 middle school dance who wouldn’t stop playing “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz. I’d discuss the themes of the record in depth, but none of them have changed. AJR are adults. Being adults disagrees with them. They would like to be kids again. Here’s a nauseating hook inspired by a nursery rhyme to hammer this theme home even further. Don’t worry, they’ll throw in some MIDI trumpets later as well. They’re just getting warmed up.

Our first real exposure to the tracklist is single “Bummerland”, which hasn’t aged well. That’s to be expected, since it never should have been born. This cut is served up with a heavy dosage of dentist drill synths, a quantized tambourine that plays on literally every single second of the song, and lyrics that do not rhyme (“This month, I got seven haircuts / And now my hair is all gone”). OK Orchestra was released on a major label, in case you were wondering if there is any justice in the world. Other early tracks like “My Play” or “Joe” showcase everything frustrating about AJR. The verse melody in “My Play” is genuinely catchy, but once again the lyrics are served up in baffling non-sequitur format (“Haven’t seen the old house lately / wonder if they found my spaceship”), and the beat somehow manages to sound like I’ve made the ill-advised decision to go clubbing on an Italian gondola. Thankfully, the group listened very carefully and considerately to Anthony Fantano’s criticism that it sounds like their only exposure to the outside world was Disney movies and released a song entitled “Adventure Is Out There”. Not only does this track feature a guitar lead that was lifted directly out of a SpongeBob chase scene, but the AJR brothers somehow manage to up the ante and title a later song “World’s Smallest Violin”.

It’s astonishing how hard this group is trying to be vulnerable in their artistic endeavors, and yet I still feel like I know nothing about them. All the potentially emotional or relatable moments on this record are hidden behind tired cultural references; it’s not quite as disastrous as when the band wrote an entire song about watching The Office, but what is? Every single moment on OK Orchestra that I come close to connecting with is suddenly destroyed in either infuriating or hilarious fashion. The vocal sample on “The Trick” could be genuinely interesting if it weren’t soaked in gallons of vibrato. Both “Bang!” and “Way Less Sad” begin with dull verses that provided me false promise, only to give way to even duller drops. “Adventure Is Out There” begins with the line “I keep losing my socks” and expects me to take it seriously, and the less said about “Humpty Dumpty” the better.

I would at least be able to muster up some respect for OK Orchestra if it were bad in an ambitious way, but it’s not. This is the same Gitmo torture device AJR has released three times already, with the dials on the vocal chop and MIDI horns turned up to twelve instead of the previous eleven. It elicited anger from me in the moments it was going for sadness and hope, and genuine laughter in the moments where AJR attempted to be relatable. If you’ve read up to this point and still want to listen to this album, enter at your own risk. This is the fifth paragraph of the review and I still haven’t even mentioned the Blue Man Group feature that sounds like Crash Bandicoot gaining his invincibility power-up. There’s not much else to say, other than I warned you. I’m going to bed; hopefully I don’t cross paths with Randy Dongtouch tonight.



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user ratings (39)
1.4
very poor
other reviews of this album
Connor White (1.5)
Outside of a few folksy cuts, OK Orchestra is no more inspired than the rest of AJR's sterile, infan...



Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2021


13792 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

this was an experience to say the least

Digging: My Bloody Valentine - m b v

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2021


8688 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Not surprised by this at all. Everything this band touches is a fuckin' 1/5, lol



Really nice review!

Cygnatti
March 26th 2021


34830 Comments


I think this might well be the worst band of all time

Digging: Prayer - In Your Arms

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2021


16848 Comments


look at that artwork. goddamn

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2021


13964 Comments


Sput using some 1's and 1.5's this week.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2021


24224 Comments


Zing!

Digging: Zao - The Crimson Corridor

Lucman
March 26th 2021


5172 Comments


Since this is my most hated band of all-time I am quite excited to listen to this. It's like they completely reset my taste because I can enjoy and appreciate everything else music has to offer when I come out.

Digging: Taylor Swift - Fearless (Taylor?s Version)

TheMoonchild
March 26th 2021


1297 Comments


PRETEND YOU KNOW THIS SONG EVERYBODY

Tunaboy45
March 26th 2021


17608 Comments


every decision this band makes is just baffling, I'm not convinced it isn't a parody of epic inspirational millennial pop

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

BlitzPhoenix98
March 26th 2021


193 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

*sigh*

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 26th 2021


37113 Comments


I streamed a few tracks from this a couple weeks ago and wish I hadn't.

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - The Million Masks Of God

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 26th 2021


37113 Comments


Wonderful review btw and hilarious opening paragraph

Tunaboy45
March 26th 2021


17608 Comments


every song sounds like Trumpets by Jason Derulo

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2021


2812 Comments


brutal and beautiful review yoyo, goddamn
'burn the house down' may very well be the worst song of all time everer so i shall avoid this at all costs :]

Digging: Lunation Fall - Near

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2021


13792 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

glad you guys like the review (and not the album)! I had so much fun writing this

DavidYowi
March 26th 2021


544 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

This is the most soy fucking band in existence, and I say this as someone who is literally taking estrogen. I have no idea who this is for. There’s like references to sex and booze but all the music sounds like it should be played on the Minions soundtrack

Tunaboy45
March 26th 2021


17608 Comments


Bummerland is such a fucking hilarious title for a song

zelenichajnik
March 26th 2021


612 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

'I'm not convinced it isn't a parody of epic inspirational millennial pop'



Yeah, I'm in the same boat. However I can't shake the feeling that if they were, then the bit would be long dead by now.



Just heard 'Bummerland'.













Jesus.

Digging: Have a Nice Life - Deathconsciousness

zelenichajnik
March 26th 2021


612 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Oh my god they're doing the thing where they really clunkily throw in a 'fuck' to seem cool

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2021


13792 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

oh also i have seen these guys live



long story



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