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CD of The Week

Week of 1/22/18

    The Go! Team - Semicircle (Memphis Industries)

    Makers of diverse mix-tape-sounding albums, The Go! Team is back for their fifth album Semicircle. The musical equivalent of cheerleading competitions set to 70's cop drama themes, the group makes a triumphant return as their last release, The Scene Between, was more of a straightforward indie pop solo record for founder Ian Parton.

    For Semicircle, Parton had a vision of what would follow, drawing inspiration from outdoor marching bands and enlisting the Detroit Youth Choir. Their ebullient and youthful sound accompanies many of the bold marching band tracks like "Getting Back Up" and "Semicircle Song," the latter of which has a Jackson Five vibe and features the choir introducing themselves and their star signs in a cheeky way.

    The Go! Team has always had strong base in double Dutch chant-vocals mixed with a wide variety of samples and lush, complex instrumentations. It should come as no stretch to imagine a chorus of young voices accompanied by marching band elements being employed to augment The Go! Team-sound. The exciting opening track "Mayday" features the choir chanting over a backing Rocky-like theme with typical urgent, rushed percussion. Original vocalist Ninja is back on "She's Got Guns" with classic street hip hop, accompanied by a signature chorus chant under the lead vocals.

    But the album is not 100% over-the-top group shouts and big band samples. They have always had a bit of a Belle & Sebastian twee side, with light and airy recorders and trumpets. That side of the Team continues on songs like the instrumental "Chico's Radical Decade" and "Plans Are Like the Dream U Organise," which crashes Sunday morning flutes into fuzzy Flaming Lips guitars and bombastic percussion. They opt for straight forward girl bubblegum pop on "The Answer's No - Now What's the Question?" mixing in some J-pop synths on the super catchy hook-laden "Chain Link Fence" as well as steel drums on "If There's One Thing You Should Know."

    Variety, particularly in the same song, is key to The Go! Team philosophy. Their music always comes across as fun and pure, in an authentic non-cynical sense, seeming to fill every ounce of space with a catchy sample, juxtaposing clashing elements yet making them work. Perhaps that is the image in of Parton's brain: unified, harmonious life coming together from every angle to form a semicircle, allowing unlimited room for more to join in.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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