“Party people in the place, get ready for this/ what’choo wanna do/ do you wanna rock the house and turn this mother out?”
The question that The Go! Team’s emcee Ninja poses in new single “Grip Like a Vice” is a pretty straightforward one. She doesn’t ask to what degree the mother should be turned out, nor which house should be rocked. All she asks is a simple affirmation, and quite frankly, whether you respond or not, she and her Brighton-bred band of sample-packing, party rocking merrymakers will provide an answer for you—a resounding yes.
Clearly, there is no band able to conjure up a good time in the same way that The Go! Team can. The Hold Steady can provide ample beer-fueled merriment, and LCD Soundsystem can get a room dancing in zero seconds flat. The Go! Team excels beyond mere club experiences, they’re the soundtrack to every weekend you’ve ever experienced…or should be, anyway. They’re the Friday night party, they’re the Saturday trip to the beach, they’re cartoons and cop shows. In fact, I recently synched “Junior Kickstart” to the street shoot-out scene in Dirty Harry for a museum event, though I could just as easily see it working for The Super Friends.
Much in the same way The Go! Team’s debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike was a collection of joy filtered through brass and distorted bass, follow-up album Proof Of Youth is like cramming summer vacation into forty minutes and eleven tracks. Stylistically, it’s pretty similar to the comic-strip sampladelia of their debut, but with crisper production values and a Technicolor punch. Essentially, it’s T, L, S amplified, and as “Grip Like a Vice” emphasizes from the outset, a heavier emphasis on vocals. Between Ninja and Kaori Tsuchida, not to mention guest appearances by Solex’s Elizabeth Esselink and Bonde do Role’s Marina Ribatski, the ladies take control on this one. As Ninja says on “Grip,” “it’s a woman’s world, you got to give what you got,” and already they’ve outshined Curtis.
Ninja and Tsuchida trade off parts on “Doing It Right,” the former hyping up the verses with her old school raps and the latter creating sonic juxtaposition with her sweet, melodic choral coos. “My World” is a bit more subdued, as analog synths play tag with some acoustic guitar, but “Titanic Vandalism” pumps up the energy once again for a track that’s up there with their hardest rocking moments. A bit of glockenspiel gives “Fake ID” a childlike glee (more so than usual), while jumprope chants from the Double Dutch Divas get playground party jam “Keys To the City” jumping (ha!).
Vibrant single and standout track “The Wrath of Marcie” is overflowing with soul, somewhere between Superfly and the theme from `Sanford & Son,’ with mad rhymes and furiously fuzzy guitar riffs. The appearance of Chuck D on “Flashlight Fight” instantly propels the album from summertime fun to what feels like an intense, high speed chase. His lyrics are no less charged with fury than the Public Enemy classics, but funneled into a swirling ’70s action pastiche backed with a cheerleading squad. It’s a combination of things that, for whatever reason, no one ever thought to combine before, but thanks to Ian Parton’s creative mind, we have this incredible mixture, and one hell of a climax to an already great album.
True, though there may be few stylistic surprises on Proof of Youth, each song is executed brilliantly, and with hardly a second spared to slow down and take a breath. It’s amazing how the group is able to layer each song with sound after sound like a cartoon character stacks cold cuts on a mile-high sandwich. Break out the cocoa puffs and `Hawaii Five-O’ reruns, Proof of Youth is the sound of all of your future weekends.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.