Sunday, January 05, 2014

14 Reviews for 2014: #4, The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts (2011)

The world's best high school band EVAH rolls on with their third album.  The first track ("T.O.R.N.A.D.O.") is an immediate step forward for their sound:  a funky realized follow-up to their stunning 2004 debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike.  It's an anthem-like song, and one of the best that they've ever (er, EVAH) put out.

And it addresses their core issue:  since that first album, they have not expanded their sound.  Unfortunately, that solution is only momentary:  besides that standout first track, the rest of the first half of the album is Interpol-like in re-covering familiar ground (much like The Go! Team's own 2007 sophomore effort, Proof of Youth).  By the third and fourth songs ("Apollo Throwdown" and "Ready to Go Steady"), they are essentially covering themselves -- reworking old songs ever so slightly, but it's all been done before.  And seven songs in, and they are officially on the Interpol/Bloc Party/Franz Ferdinand "Prove Me Wrong List Before I Buy Again" list.  

Now if this was the first time you'd heard The Go! Team, you'd love the album; but if you were a fan of the band from the start, you'd understand that this is re-tread brilliance.  For the latter group of fans, the high of "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." will be long forgotten by this point -- it's a very languid listen.

The Go! Team - "T.O.R.N.A.D.O."

But then... it's as if on the second half of the album, the light has come on.  Finally!  It's a slightly different approach, and that step forward I've been looking for, starting with "Voice Yr Choice."  It still has that same basic sound, but plays within a much larger palette -- the highlights are the last two songs, "Rolling Blackouts" and "Back Like 8 Track."  

Is there a song on the second half on the album as good as "T.O.R.N.A.D.O."?  No.  Is the second half of the album as good as Thunder, Lightning, Strike?  No.  But it IS different, and very good in its own way, which makes the band's outlook much more interesting looking forward.  

Thus the second half of the album is an encouraging step from a great group; hopefully this signals a new direction.  I am struck by the thought that if the album was structured in reverse, I'd be less optimistic, and this review would instead be all about how they had instead made an EP.  But that is the power of an album:  order does still have meaning.

CD Placement Rating:  1st half - Sellback Pile 1.  2nd half - Car CD Changer.  Overall -  we'll split the difference and call it Portable CD Case.

- Snilch

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