Avid listeners of Brighton indie outfit The Go! Team must be feeling a dichotomy of elation and disappointment. Past weeks yielded both the release of the band’s most eclectic work yet, Rolling Blackouts, and hints from primary songwriter Ian Parton that The Go! Team’s days are numbered. In an interview with BBC 6 Music, Parton suggested that Rolling Blackouts might be the last release for the band, and that the following tour might be The Go! Team’s last in their current line-up. However, as a proponent of ending on a high note, I can’t help my excitement about Rolling Blackouts, regardless of what the future holds for The Go! Team.
Rolling Blackouts begins with “T.O.R.N.A.D.O”, an in-your-face, get-pumped track that could be the theme for just about any over-dramatized basketball movie. Horns blaring, the song doesn’t let up for a second while resident rapper/double dutch chanter Ninja spits over the track. Effectively, it tears down any notions that the album might bore. In keeping with previous albums, Rolling Blackouts is a musical mixed bag. “T.O.R.N.A.D.O” leads directly into the “Secretary Song”, a cutesy, indie nugget with lead vocals delivered courtesy of Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki. Almost as soon as one becomes accustomed to the pop sentiments of “The Secretary Song”, Ninja snatches them out of their comfort zone again with her cheerleader-from-the-streets bravado in “Apollo Throwdown”. From there on, the album seems to alternate between the rowdy and hip-hop-influenced (à la “Bust-Out Brigade”) and the upbeat and sugary (“Ready to Go Steady” and “Buy Nothing Day”, the latter as a definite highlight track).
At the close of Rolling Blackouts, the pattern is broken with a number of obscurities, including “Super Triangle”, which is essentially elevator music on LSD, “Yosemite Theme”, an instrumental marriage of indie and steel guitars, “The Running Range”, which could play during any good martial arts training montage, and finally, “Lazy Poltergeist”, a song featuring only piano.
Listening to the album chronologically, “Lazy Poltergeist” has a special quality about it, in that it lets you appreciate any sort of simplicity. To say that the title track is high-energy would be a gross understatement. It’s a song best appreciated while driving a little bit too fast. Rolling Blackouts ends with “Back Like 8 Track”, in which the major components of each song come together to form something that sounds almost like consistency. Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, “Back Like 8 Track” embodies a youthful optimism, even while the eve of the band’s disbanding seems near.
From a platonic perspective, Rolling Blackouts is a jumbled-up mess of songs. Anyone with a certain amount of youth energy left in them will realize that it’s actually a jumbled-up mess of songs, and it works. Listeners who prefer their albums to have plenty of fluidity will most likely not find a new favorite in Rolling Blackouts. However, those who like music with attitude need not look further. They should probably hurry up though and catch them on this tour, because The Go! Team may not be a lasting commodity.