The Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 01.28.11 in Reviews

England has a long, checkered history of meta-acts: When the results don't live up to the ideals behind them, the bands in question typically don't last much longer than their NME single-of-the-week status. When they do, they're David Bowie. With its cartoon image, willfully bubblegum tunes, and reliance on childlike voices, the Go! Team practically beg to be filed with the former. Male, female, white, black and Asian, the Team's multiculturalism is put into practice on songs so overloaded with references and disparate styles, all delivered with such enthusiastic cuteness that the end product nearly defies intellectual response. How does a band expect to be taken seriously when it comes on like that YouTube'd pug that whines, "I wov woo"?

Revisiting well-worn genres with such depth of feeling that they bypass simple preservation

Bandleader Ian Parton doesn't back away from a challenge. What began with sampling and overdubbing is now nearly orchestral on the Go! Team's third — and by far most ambitious — album. When Parton nails a Burt Bacharach/Jimmy Webb-type easy listening melody on "Yosemite Theme," he employs what sounds like a small army of musicians on banjo, pedal steel, harmonica and French horns while maintaining a distinctly Public Enemy approach to production. His affinity for girlish expression also hasn't diminished: For "Secretary Song," he features noise-rock's Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, and surrounds her with Farfisa organs, chugging guitars, and the clatter of typewriters click-clacking to the beat. And he's still high on female MCs: Teenage Tampa rapper Dominique Young Unique trades lines with Go! Team's own Ninja on the phosphorescent "Apollo Throwdown" and gets her own showcase on the equally giddy "Voice Yr Choice."

For the title track, he teams Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino with Piano Magic's Angèle David-Guillou to evoke the girl-on-girl fantasia of '90s college rock, ladling overdubbed guitar distortion and melodies as sweet as spun sugar. On "Buy Nothing Day," Cosentino reappears to front flat-out power-pop nirvana. Layer on layer on layer go the guitars, as if Parton managed to sync up classics by the Byrds, the Raspberries, Badfinger and Big Star at the same time. What little one can hear of the lyrics suggests Stereolab's anti-consumerist agitprop, but the crucial difference here is that everyone involved sings and plays like they believe they can make the world a more beautiful place by keeping their wallets in their pockets. The Go! Team-sters revisit well-worn genres with such depth of feeling that they bypass simple preservation. They're skipping rope on the path to revolution.