Of all of the commercial breakthroughs over the last few years, perhaps The Go! Team‘s was the most surprising. After all, this was a band who began life as a one-man bedroom project, and whose sound was basically unclassifiable – neither indie, nor dance, nor rock.
Yet debut album Thunder Lightning Strike became one of the big word-of-mouth successes of 2005 – it was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and seemed to crop up regularly whenever TV programme makers looked for some incidental music. Even Ladyflash was used by Sky’s Soccer AM as backing music for various footballers chipping golf balls into a bucket.
Ian Parton, the man whose brainchild The Go! Team is, even put together a band to play live, thus beefing up their fanbase and reputation even more – with the result that Proof Of Youth is one of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2007.
At first listen, not much has changed in the world of The Go! Team. There’s the same cheerleader style vocals, the same ‘film score’ type atmosphere, and the same sense that almost everything bar the kitchen sink has been thrown into the mix.
Yet repeated listens reveal Proof Of Youth to be a more rounded album that its predecessor. The months of touring means there’s much more of a ‘live band’ feel to this album, with live vocals from Ninja replacing the wealth of samples. There’s even some guest spots, including Bonde Do Role and none other than Chuck D.
Grip Like A Vice picks up where Thunder Lightning Strike left off, with its mighty double dose of drums, scattergun raps and a memorable hook of “girls, are you with us?” which will bounce round your head like a ping-pong ball. Fellow single Doing It Right is cut from a similar, if less manic, cloth, but the repetitive nature of the track means it’s one of the less interesting moments here.
The exhilarating opener to Titanic Vandalism is much more successful, leading into a track which is impossible to sit still to – the amount of sonic invention packed into the song is just staggering. The Wrath Of Marcie’s horn section gives it an uplifting feel, while Keys To The City employs The Double Dutch Divas to brilliant effect, the Divas rapping over the trademark percussive-heavy backing.
If there’s one criticism of The Go! Team, it could be that it all seems a bit exhausting at times – maybe there’s too much packed into there, leaving you feeling a bit jaded towards the end of the album. My World attempts to address this, a lovely pastoral acoustic number, but I Never Needed It Now So Much, while taking the tempo down a bit, irritates with its woozy melody and slightly out-of-tune vocal.
The appearance of Chuck D on Flashlight Flash actually jars a bit. It sounds, unsurprisingly, like a Public Enemy pastiche, with cheerleader-style vocals instead of Flavor Flav’s witterings. Yet there’s still an urgent nature to the track which sounds genuinely thrilling.
Proof Of Youth does lack the immediacy that Thunder Lightning Strike possessed in spades, but that is not to its detriment. Ian Parton has done it again and made an addictive, memorable second album – get ready for this to become more or less ubiquitous over the next few months.