Proof Of Youth
To our knowledge, no-one has yet said: “Your gran’s just died. Let’s sit here and remember her while listening to The Go! Team.” As car-chase music, cheerleader chanting and early rap vocals – not to mention a mess of Avalanches-style pop, Northern soul and Sonic Youth-style guitar-grating – all collide in the first nanosecond of most of their songs, it would be an undignified moment of contemplation. No, the Brighton collective’s music lends itself more to soundtracking the act of driving a tank through a brick wall. This has always been unhinged, knowingly daft pop fun.
This larger-than-life genre-murder was born of prime mover Ian Parton’s admirably simple logic: if these things were good individually, wouldn’t cramming them together equal joy to the power of joy? So, with childlike naivety, he built The Go! Team’s first album entirely from samples, recruited a band and did very well indeed. An equation that shouldn’t have worked out in a rational universe somehow spawned ‘Thunder, Lighting, Strike’: a quarter of a million units sold, a Mercury nomination, inroads into America and an instrument-swapping live show widely hailed as, ‘Woah!’
So is album number two going to be the moment the Go! Team mature into something that’s less hybrid, more its own animal? ‘Proof Of Youth’ breaks down into two basic categories: further tank-driving songs (‘Titanic Vandalism’); and songs that sound like they’re trying to push the band into even more sonically frazzled territory. Any hopes for a calmer record are dashed about three seconds in, with the appearance of the first wailing siren. ‘Grip Like A Vice’ soon establishes itself as the best thing The Go! Team have done – a berserk, dance-rock collision that out-Chemicalises The Chemical Brothers at their rowdiest.
On the down side, it also directs us to the fact that the Team haven’t addressed their most oft-repeated criticism: Parton’s insistence on treating the voice as just another instrument. With vocals often competing in the mix with the melodies, it’s difficult to know where to focus. Even Public Enemy’s Chuck D suffers. His verse on ‘Flashlight Fight’ barely makes it out alive, drowned by a squad of Dragnet sirens all clamouring to be numero uno.
Overall, Chi’s voice now overtakes Ninja’s as the most recognisable motif in an expanded cast. In addition to Chuck D, Bonde Do Rolê’s Marina pops up on ‘Universal Speech’, there’s a twirl from a troupe of 40-year-old cheerleaders and an after-school rap club plucked straight from MySpace.
Unsurprisingly, the most thrilling moments are the most genre-schizo. On the indie-hop of ‘Keys To The City’, curls of shoegazing guitar intersect with clattering double-drums and big horns. If that’s not enough, a cheerleading chant somehow leads us, bemused and amazed, up the street to one of Chi’s pure-pop choruses.
The album closes with its own end-credits sequence: the soft, chiming harmonics and triumphant trumpets of ‘Patricia’s Moving Picture’. And so, our story ends happily. They’ve once again dispensed blockbuster ingredients: action, romance, mystery, xylophones and shouting. And while it’s only entertainment and, yes, if we step back a bit it does seem rather silly, ‘Proof Of Youth’ has enough development and heartwarming moments to see us through.