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Review: The Go Team - Rolling Blackouts

25th January 2011
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3/5

Music is a fickle game, and what is interesting about The Go! Team’s prolonged follow-up to 2007’s Proof of Youth is the evident pressures to both adapt to their changed surroundings and remain true to their original sound.

The Go TeamTrying to classify the band’s music is a near-impossible task, with clear inspiration drawn from NY hip-hop, LA-era electro, and modern-day synth-pop, mixed in with some funk and soul samples, elements of noise-rock and occasional intoxicating harmonies adjacent to girl-group pop.

The album opens with vocalist Ninja’s familiar, almost-robotic style of rapping and a hypnotic chorus that sounds suspiciously like Uffie’s ‘MCs Can Kiss’. Lead single ‘T.O.R.N.A.D.O.’, sets out with full throttle, turntable-electro pumping alongside orchestrated strings and horns. The band actually assembled a live orchestra for the recording of the album, guitarist Ian Parton scoring all the parts himself. ‘Bust-Out Brigade’ follows the same formula as the opener, so that it almost begins to sound like déjà-vu. These songs are typical of their tried-and-tested sound and while this was all very exciting in 2005, it now seems a bit tired. All the sound sources that feature on these songs become overwhelming and feel quite cluttered.

Instead, the band are most effective when they tone down their gung-ho style, blending all the elements together without it sounding too discordant. There’s a strong shoegaze overlay to the production, which is more suited to binding these diverse musical elements than the Wall-of-Sound technique they previously adopted. On ‘Secretary Song’, arguably the strongest track on the record, the band’s hip-hop tendencies are toned down in favour of twee-sounding synthlines and an excellent cameo from Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki. Second guest-vocal track, ‘Buy Nothing Day’, balances perfectly along the line of pop and dance. Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, like Satomi, plays a central role. The Carpenters-sounding ‘Ready To Go Steady’ is likely to be the closest the band will ever get to surf-pop, while ‘Apollo Throwdown’ and ‘Voice Yr Choice’ find a brilliant balance, incorporating Ninja’s gang-chants against a soothing ambient backdrop.

Released by Memphis Industries on 31st January 2011




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