Sunday, September 16

The Go! Team Prove They Rock the Party

Artist: The Go! Team

Album: Proof of Youth

I’ve long had a theory that, despite the best efforts of Andrew W.K, we in American do not party hard. Oh sure, we’ll show up for a few drinks and a game of strip-scrabble, but our country is seriously lacking when it comes to putting the lampshade on our heads and dancing until the sun comes up. Then again, we don’t produce bands like England’s The Go! Team. An American artist would never put out something so undeniably funky, so brazenly fresh, so damn good as Proof of Youth.

Influenced by late 70s B-boy rap, mid 70s funk, and cheerleader pep rallies, The Go! Team’s music is the soundtrack to the best day of your life. They have the power to make even the most uptight of curmudgeons want to pop and lock like a giddy 12-year-old girl. On their first record, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, the band took horn samples from their favorite funk songs and mixed it with lightning quick fuzz guitar, thundering drums and schoolyard double-dutch chants to make one of the most fun records ever pressed to plastic. Rather than mess with success, The Go! Team made the same album again, and it is awesome.

From the opening notes of “Grip Like a Vice,” it’s clear that Proof of Youth was made for basements and house parties. Guitars lead the way while female vocalist / rapper Ninja bites Grand Master Flash and raps about God knows what (my guess? candy). The song samples a police siren, funk horns, and hand claps while the band plays along and dares you not to dance. Later, on “The Wrath of Marie,” the band takes the banjo and turns it from a redneck bluegrass joke to an essential instrument in rocking the house on one of the best breakdowns I’ve heard in a long time.

Tracks like “Doing it Right” and “Keys to the City” are like giant hugs for the ears. The music is so upbeat and positive; it’s almost like The Go! Team recorded the songs just to tell the listener “Hey, it’s going to be OK! You’re the best! We should totally break dance right now!” Even the more hard edge tracks have lighthearted charm to them. The most excellent “Titanic Vandalism” is the kind of song one would expect to find in an old kung-fu movie where two ninjas are doing battle on the back of a dragon. On an unrelated note, it’s a most excellent song to exercise to. Even Chuck D, legendary MC of Public Enemy and well document grouch can get behind the manic Prozac music of The Go! Team; he does guest vocals on the crunching “Flashlight Fight.”

If the album has any problems, it’s almost too much fun for our lame American selves. The pace is only slowed down once, on the beautiful two-minute interlude “My World,” which sounds like one of those songs they played back in movie theaters in the 70s. Some might also complain about the production of the album, which is very muddy. Instruments bleed together in a jumble where it’s hard to figure out which instrument is making what noise. However, this just makes the album that much more fun to listen to, every time one goes back, there’s a new sound to discover to bring a smile to the face.

And so, with the energy of a grade school hopped up on Pixie Styx, Proof of Youth proves to be one of the best records of the year, party or otherwise. Once again, Americans everywhere are forced to swallow our pride and admit that Europe is much better at parting than we are. All we can do is forget tomorrow, put the lampshade on our heads, and pretend we’re from the UK for a night.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Key Tracks: Grip Like a Vice, Titanic Vandalism, Doing it Right, Wrath of Marie

Worth The Money: Yes

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