Friday, January 19, 2018

The Go! Team - Semicircle Review

The Go! Team, everyone's favorite happy-go-lucky nostalgic burners, have released their fifth album Semicircle during the most tumultuous time since the band's first LP Thunder, Lightning, Strike in 2004. How those two polar opposites come together is perhaps the most intriguing part of Semicircle, an album whose title is even left with a glaring omission that needs to be linked. During the time between 2004 and today, The Go! Team failed to expand on their originating sound, losing purpose in the process because surrounding life wasn't so grim. However, much like The Avalanches' esteemed Wildflower two years back, it's clear rays of hope through vibrant Psychedelia has rediscovered newfound vigor. Best of all, The Go! Team doesn't just exist in a vacuum concealing the darkness. If tracks like 'Mayday' or 'Getting Back Up' are any indication, the group musically led by Ian Parton, vocally by Ninja, acknowledge the growing concerns left in the void opposite their Semicircle. The former, the intro, cries out for a sign whilst sending out an S.O.S., while the latter, the outro, embraces peace and faith through chiptune Gospel. In classic Go! Team fashion though, marching band maximalism teeters on the brink of exhaustion through each of the 12 tracks, limiting musical exploration for the sake of instantaneous pleasure.

Semicircle's most difficult hurdle to overcome is one The Go! Team positioned in front of itself. Yes, our dwindling social climate causes the LP to feel galvanized and motivated, but that's merely a byproduct of our environment, not The Go! Team themselves. Their music stands the same as ever. A quick detour towards 2015's The Scene Between will prove that, with tracks like 'The Art Of Getting By' and 'The Scene Between' showing chauvinistic pride towards the goal of betterment. If we pull the societal relevancy away from Semicircle, looking at it through the eyes of a child, all we see is their trademarked flamboyance being siphoned through full-blown Indie Pop. And there's nothing wrong with that, if standouts like 'Semicircle Song' or 'The Answer's No - Now What's The Question?' are any indication. Both songs ride directly down The Go! Team's matted road, as the former goes all in on the horns, the latter embracing that high school musical schtick. Whether intentional or not, 'The Answer's No's' chorus features the cutesy line "isn't it hard to say the word," which sounds awfully similar to "save the world," giving the track two worthwhile interpretations.

While other tracks like 'If There's One Thing You Should Know' and 'Getting Back Up' accommodate the group's all-welcoming tone with simplistic sing-a-longs, to great effect, there are a few duds that provide no new faces for The Go! Team's dried out cliches. Both 'Mayday' and 'All The Way Live,' two lead singles, gag on the group's standardized approach, resulting in finished products that sound like impersonators mimicking The Go! Team's style. I'm reminded of 'Daddy's Car,' a Beatles ripoff created entirely by artificial intelligence. That's how trivialized Semicircle can get. The album even sticks to The Go! Team's long-running tradition of sprinkling instrumental interludes between passages, with both 'Chico's Radical Decade' and 'Tangerine / Satsuma / Clementine' going heavy on the shimmering Psychedelic Pop. They're both pleasant but easily expendable with the previous albums' intermissions. For them, short term satisfaction trumps long term willpower. Much like every previous album, Semicircle uses sugary melodies as a debilitating crutch. Even the lyrical content relies heavily on short-term amusement, whether its a summer romance or a dazzling daydream. The Go! Team have ripened their craft to its maximal potential, providing yet another fun-loving album that will soon be forgotten, by nature of the exorbitant saccharine.

1 comment:

  1. Reading your review I feel you're a little tough on them since this is band whose power relies on melodies and feelgood sounds. As a TG!T follower since the 2005 heydays I've never expected them to reinvent the wheel or shake the indie rock world with their subsequent releases, but always appreciate their sheer joy in making music and using those obscure samples to induce happiness on their listeners. Once again, a little tough review that doesn't entirely match the 6.8 you gave this release (btw I agree with that score). At this moment this is my favorite Parton & Co. album since Proof of Youth (my least favorite being The Scene Between).