Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Go! Team "Proof Of Youth" (2007)

The Go! Team burst onto the indie scene a couple years ago like the proverbial breath of fresh air, their built on samples schoolyard chants and TV theme rockers made most everything else sound gray and a little timid in comparison. Thunder, Lightning, Strike was a brilliant record and Proof of Youth can't help but suffer when stacked up against it. Indeed, it might take a spin or two before you can shake the feeling that you're listening to outtakes from Thunder, Lightning, Strike but once you do the album reveals itself to be another, though slightly lesser, stroke of greatness. Rather that relying heavily on samples this time out, bandleader Ian Parton goes with a live band with samples blended in approach. It results in a slightly more organic, but still a recognizably Go! Team, sound. Meaning that the master tapes were dragged behind a car for a couple of miles, then dipped in wool and left out to melt in the hot, august sun. The resulting tinny and muddy mess may be enough to give audiophiles the hives but to any one else it's an exciting mess that fairly explodes out of the speakers in a hissy rush of sound. The drums pound, the horns blare, the guitars wail and clatter, the vocals shout to be heard; it's a whirling fun house of music and fun. Which would be enough to recommend the album but the songs themselves are strong and equally as impressive. Grip Like a Vice which features beamed in from the early 80s raps from female pioneers Lisa Lee of Cosmic Force and Sha Rock from Funky Four Plus One, is the equal of anything on Thunder, Doing It Right has lovely verses sung by guitarist Kaori Tsuchida to match the instantly hooky chorus, I Never Needed It Now So Much is a indie pop ballad sung sweetly by Elisabeth Esselink (also known as Solex) and Patricia's Moving Picture shows a sensitive and melodic side the group would be wise to investigate in the future.

Taking the place of the samples on Proof of Youth are many guest appearances. Along with Solex's appearance, Marina from Bonde Do Role sings on the stomping Titanic Vandalism and Universal Speech, two rap crews from opposite ends of the age spectrum (day care cuties the Rappers Delight Club and real old-school jump roping rappers the Double Dutch Divas) are on board and Chuck D. of Public Enemy raps on Flashlight Fight. Only the latter guest spot feels like a gimmick. Chuck D.'s rap isn't as bad as his Kool Thing misadventure but it sounds wildly out of place next to Ninja's exhortations and the old-school lightheartedness that prevails elsewhere. No doubt the idea of working with one of their heroes was a thrill for the band but the album would have been better off without the song. One mis-step isn't enough to ruin things though and if you can forgive them basically making the same album again, Proof of Youth is a pretty spectacular continuation of some of the most exciting, innovative sounds around. Next time they'll have to stretch some but for now the Go! Team are doing it right.



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