Album three from the Brighton sextet treads a similar stylistic path to previous LPs.
Reef Younis 2011
It’s always been pretty difficult to dislike The Go! Team and their uplifting jacked-on-E-numbers brand of boisterous playground vocals, busy handclaps and infectious sunshine optimism. It’d be like hating a school play for the unconvincing acting, or not cracking a smile at a winning Only Fools and Horses joke you’ve seen and heard several times before.
There’s an inherently inoffensive quality to Ian Parton and his merry band of cohorts, but The Go! Team have always offered more than just good clean fun. Their crashing of pop, hip hop and freestyling into animated three-minute snippets on 2004’s debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike produced a refreshingly dynamic brand of pop that couldn’t help but capture the imagination. And on Rolling Blackouts it’s much the same formula at work.
The bombastic Beastie Boys-tinged opener T.O.R.N.A.D.O. instantly reacquaints the listener with Ninja’s bratty vocal delivery and sets a bold tone for the following 30 minutes. Part maverick brass band creations, and part energetic show-tunes, Rolling Blackouts is, as expected, an album that’s difficult to pin down but somehow a little predictable.
There’s daring and drive; energy and a restlessness that makes you feel guilty for even contemplating to take a breath. But we know the components, and have learned the formula, it’s evident we’ve heard this before. The Go! Team’s giddy eclecticism has always been one of their main draws, but as the album bounces from Ready to Go Steady’s lovely shades of 60s pop to the horn crashes of Bust-Out Brigade, via the sweet, albeit idle, melody of Super Triangle, little triggers are flicking at déjà vu switches.
Categorically, Rolling Blackouts isn’t a simple case of re-hashing their past success, but there’s a fine line between the predictable and the familiar. There’s still the charm and energy and all the qualities that made us fall in love with The Go! Team in the first place. But it’s like a child who’s recently learned one song: cute the first few times, but even the most lovable things eventually get tiresome.