The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Go! Team

Rolling Blackouts (2011)

Memphis Industries

The Go! Team was never a subtle band. They deal in energetic dance beats. But it's the details that make or break their records. Debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike exploded with funk, rap, rock, big band and pop. Follow-up Proof of Youth sounded like the work of a sub-par Go! Team tribute act--they got the notes right, but man did it sound cluttered and empty at the same time. With the release of Rolling Blackouts, however, the Team doubles down on fun and comes out a winner.

Maybe it's because I haven't paid attention to them for a while, but opener "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." made me dance right away. Granted, I was driving and I'm one awkward white fellow, but the song is propulsive, enthusiastic and, oh yeah, fun. "Secretary Song" repeats the trick. But by the time "Apollo Throwdown" comes on, it becomes apparent that the Go! Team has learned a new trick: Quiet/loud dynamics. As much as I love Thunder, that album is pretty much on all the time (aside from "Everyone is a V.I.P. to Someone," I guess).

Blackouts explores tempos more slightly at first before going into a bubblegum pop tune called "Ready to Go Steady." It's straight out of the '60s and stripped down compared to the band's more contemporary arrangements but it's actually pretty good. Of course, "Bust-Out Brigade" amps the energy levels back up with a marching band-style stomp, but the give and take freshens up the band.

Perhaps what sunk Proof of Youth was that it was too similar to Thunder, Lightning, Strike. For all the changes made, like raising hype woman MC Ninja higher in the mix, the record didn't break enough from Thunder's formula, and it sure as hell didn't improve it. Blackouts reminds me what worked then (big beats, hummable hooks and lots o' pep) and where the band could go today.

I've been all over the spectrum as a Go! Team fan, from eager convert to jaded, jilted ex-lover. Rolling Blackouts restarts the affair all over for me. It ain't subtle, but it works.