The Go! Team
, February 9th, 2011 07:31
Has there ever been a universally-lauded band more utterly removed from the zeitgeist at their inception? After all, when the Go! Team first chortled their way across our stereo, they weren't quite indie enough to reap the post-Franz benefits, were slightly too cerebral for the commercial dancefloors (then at their most lowest-common-denominator point in many a year), and radiated omnipresent joy at the exact point when Junior Senior and Har Mar Superstar were being unceremoniously shoved into a critical what-were-we-thinking corner. Plus, to make matters worse, they didn't appear to be trading in darkness at all, and that kind of behavior will always be seem as somehow lesser, which is why Joy Division are always a timely touchstone and very few reviews find room for the word Vengaboysesque.
Still, Ian Parton and his cohorts-in-chaos have made a decent fist of proving themselves since to be thoroughly stout of heart, and so it is that, while genuinely lesser combos have scorched through their fifteen minutes, the Go! Team remain, seven years on, not only a going concern but a thriving one, and one that's possibly found their time at last, since what could be more anti-recession than a DIY outfit of resolute good cheer? Not that they're merely repeating the familiar formula, mind – no, this time they've worked, by their own standards, backwards, doing the whole songwriting malarkey first and then scavenging for just the right noise rather than following their usual fit-it-to-the-found-sounds approach, and, whether it's down to this tweak or not, they sound considerably refreshed.
Comfortingly, mind you, they've still seen fit to bookend Rolling Blackouts with a pair of Ninja-helmed squeeee!athons, so opener 'T.O.R.N.A.D.O.' is practically the Team in excelsis, all howling horns, marching band percussion, volcanic gush, Philly strings, and warmly cool and eccentrically enunciated vocals. 'Back Like 8 Track''s post-proto-Euro-hop delivery over a raucous raga strum threaded through primitive scratches and bellbottomed psychedelia calls to mind the notion of Saint Etienne producing Neneh Cherry, as outstanding in practice as it is on paper. Elsewhere, though, they're attracting a guest list that, in spite of clearly being all-inclusive, has a modish exclusivity about it too, as there must be no end of outfits that'd set fire to their own jeans while wearing them if it meant getting Bethany Best Coast and Satomi Deerhoof on board.
And, brilliantly, this allows the Team to produce a record that manages to be simultaneously mod and modernist. There might be a nostalgic tinge to the clapped romance of 'Ready To Go Steady', for example, but it owes as much to the forces of Fortuna Pop! as it does to any suggestion of Carnaby Street capers. Last year's superb single 'Buy Nothing Day' is a shot of sunshine full in the face, laced with a curiously Amerindie insouciance even as it shimmies short-skirtedly along the jangle-lit path to the garage (stopping off, bizarrely, for a quick rewiring of 'Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want''s coda along the way. Er, righto). Moreover, there are times when their previous palette appears to be undergoing significant expansion: 'Yosemite Theme' has clearly been put together so that cowboys have a soundtrack to decorate their Christmas trees to – as generous a gesture as we're likely to hear all year – and 'Super Triangle' is a masterpiece of Air-borne Boards Of Canadadom that feels on the cusp of introducing some futurist 70s SCIENCE! at any point. Also, the title track is lush. No, really, it could pass for 'Black Spring'-era Lush. Hooray!
Still a thoroughly joyous division in their own right then, and, encouragingly, with every reason to believe that their endeavours could finally be rewarded while they're still in their prime, as this is what we suspect Mark Ronson's records sound like in his head, and he's not exactly struggling, is he? Alright, so it may not win over the cynics, but stewing in their own grumpery rather comes with the description; everybody else, meanwhile, may largely know the drill by now, but that doesn't make the Go! Team any less commanding.