The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts

written by: February 9, 2011
The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts album cover Release Date: January 31, 2011


The Go! Team’s 2004 debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike, featured a mix of ’60’s bubblegum pop, ’70’s TV theme music, ’80’s hip-hop and ’90’s lo-fi/alternative rock. It was of both novelty and quality. Songs found their place on quirky indie films and commercials sponsored by the NFL.

The unusual mix of sounds proved difficult to evolve on the band’s 2007 follow up Proof of Youth. The Go! Team beefed up production and even got Chuck D to guest on a track, but the writing was simply not as strong. Now four years later The Go! Team is ready to try again with Rolling Blackouts.

First track “T.O.R.N.A.D.O.” explodes with a horn section belting out a riff that seems lifted from a metal album, but with some extra flourishes underneath Dominique’s rapping. The band isn’t  messing around. The two-minute track stands as a short and to-the-point strike that bodes well for the rest of the album. Follow-up “Secretary Song,” featuring Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki, at times resembles a possible Gwen Stefani track discarded for being a little too idiosyncratic.

It’s full of life and it’s clear The Go! Team has found a way to make an artistic step forward.

Things get even better with “Apollo Throwdown.” Featuring some hand-claps and chanting over some classic Go! Team ’70s vibe  with subtle chillwave undertone, this track may be able to stand alongside “Huddle Formation” as the group’s top tune.

Considering the strength of the beginning, it’s no surprise things start to slack afterward. “Ready to Go Steady” and “Bust-Out Brigade” both walk the same lines as material on the band’s debut. “Buy Nothing Day” has the potential to be one of 2011’s biggest—albeit fuzziest—pop anthems, but it’s followed by a lackluster instrumental that kills most of the regained momentum.

“Voice Yr Choice” shows the band utilizing the tones and styling of modern rap amidst distorted bass and horns. It indicates potential, but unfortunately fails to deliver. The track is easily forgotten by the start of the next number. The remaining tracks, excepting the pop punch of the title track,  rehash previous ideas while attempting to throw in a few new ones, like the short harp appearance on “Yosemite Theme.” The closer “Back Like 8 Track,” however, does show that The Go! Team can still generate a great song using the old formula.

There’s no reason this album wouldn’t be great to have on at a party, but as an artistic statement or critical listening material, it’s inconsistent. The problem with such a novel mix is it’s hard to advance without dropping a lot of the trademarks.

Yet,  nobody can legitimize jump rope chants like these guys, let alone make it sound natural. The sound is the band’s own and they do it well. The Go Team! has found a way to successfully step forward on Rolling Blackouts, with the  strength of dense arrangements, standout melodies (when they appear) and well-chosen collaborations. Earning themselves another shot with Rolling Blackouts, they better take less time to get the next album done.

The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts tracklist

  1. T.O.R.N.A.D.O.
  2. Secretary Song
  3. Apollo Throwdown
  4. Ready to Go Steady
  5. Bust-Out Brigade
  6. Buy Nothing Day
  7. Super Triangle
  8. Voice Yr Choice
  9. Yosemite Theme
  10. The Running Range
  11. Lazy Poltergeist
  12. Rolling Blackouts
  13. Back Like 8 Track