The Go Team - Rolling Blackouts Album Review
Brighton collective The Go! Team have always existed on their own terms. While proving something of a nightmare for those adept at subdividing and compartmentalising artists into different genres and so forth, The Go! Team's unique fusion of hip hop, funk, soul, noise pop and pretty much every other style you'd care to mention has set them apart from all of their peers. It probably says as much for their legacy that they're just as likely to be invited to play live with the likes of Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine (as happened in 2009) as they are to be asked as remixers and arrangers for a host of acts from Bloc Party to Hot Chip and beyond.
Since their formation at the turn of the millennium it's been an ongoing process for founder member and figurehead Ian Parton in his quest for creating and constructing "the perfect pop masterpiece". Early single 'Ladyflash' came close, earning the band widespread recognition while turning a nation onto accompanying long player 'Thunder, Lightning, Strike' in its wake. Comparisons to the likes of Soulwax alter egos 2 Many DJs and even Simian Mobile Disco came thick and fast, and while it's easy to see why such comparative suggestions could be made with either, the one thing that sets The Go! Team apart is that they are to all intents and purposes a fully operative, predominantly live band, in every pedantic sense of the word.
That aside, their follow-up to 'Thunder, Lightning, Strike', 2007's 'Proof Of Youth', didn't carry the same level of impact or longevity as its predecessor, despite several impressive collaborators on the record including Public Enemy's Chuck D. Bearing that in mind, the decision to retreat to the drawing board and effectively take a period of time out from writing and recording was a bold one, albeit punctuated by a relentless tour schedule that seems to have continued non-stop for the best part of five years.
Nevertheless, the foundations for 'Rolling Blackouts' were laid as far back as 2008, Parton's synapses in overdrive while contemplating the idea of fusing together the impossible once more. Indeed, there's an element of the unlikely about pretty much everything The Go! Team put their name to, almost like a food combination of chocolate and cheese or some other unthinkable stomach churning concoction. As with 'Proof Of Youth', the sextet have enlisted a couple of guest vocalists in the shape of Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki who turns the overtly poppy 'Secretary Song' into an eclectic melange of delight and Best Coast's Beth Cosentino, whose laidback drawl accentuates 'Buy Nothing Day''s girl group jangle into a close cousin of Bleach's long forgotten minor hit of yesteryear 'Dipping'.
For the most part, 'Rolling Blackouts' does follow The Go! Team's tried and trusted template of girl gang chants over hip hop infused beats courtesy of Ninja's unmistakeable lilt and newcomer Dominique Unique's excitable swagger, which recalls the likes of Monie Love or Q-Tee's earliest forays at UK's embryonic stage with rap music. Lead single 'T.O.R.N.A.D.O.' sets the record's stall out in pulsating fashion. Likewise the summery assault of 'Apollo Throwdown' and brassy instrumental 'Bust-Out Brigade', both exhibiting the charisma and poise The Go! Team exude in spades.
Its on the more daring, experimental forays though that 'Rolling Blackouts' prick up ears and eyebrows attentively, none more so than on the title track, a dead ringer for My Bloody Valentine's 'Strawberry Wine' thanks to a breezy hybrid of reverb-laden guitars and angelic vocals. 'The Running Range' meanwhile sees The Go! Team make a play for creating a film score of their own, albeit one that would probably only work on a remake of an old spaghetti western from the early 1970s. 'Yosemite Theme' serves as a forward-thinking tribute to the late Malcolm McLaren and his 'Duck Rock' concept, while the closing 'Back Like 8 Track' fuses together modern day techniques with sixties inspired production that suggests The Go! Team's heads are anywhere but confined to one time or place.
As welcome returns go, 'Rolling Blackouts' is an enthralling collection that could in turn open fresh doors for The Go! Team as well as continue the groundwork already achieved by its two forerunners. What's more, their "Back To The Future" style approach to songwriting and orchestration is a blessing for a music industry seemingly intent on returning to the basic inconsequentialities of Britpop in 2011.