If you’ve never experienced a Go! Team album before then you’re in for a treat. They are a rambunctious tumble of high-energy elements with a magpie’s eye for the shiny objects: a rush of horns, a dash of double Dutch calls, hip-hop beats and electronic flashes. The Go! Team are a neon, graffiti covered party bus and you just want to jump on board. Front man Ian Parton has been leading this group since their 2004 debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike, there was a Mercury Prize nomination in 2005 and five more albums that have brought us to Get Up Sequences Part 1.
This album did have it’s setbacks as Ian Parton suffered partial hearing loss halfway through making the record: “I lost hearing in my right ear halfway during the making of this record… it fluctuated over a few weeks and at one point everything sounded like a Dalek…listening to music was bordering on unbearable.” This settled over time and, despite Parton’s fears this could have been brought on by years of loud music, it was sadly unluckier than that as he was diagnosed with the rare condition Meniere’s “It was traumatic to keep listening to songs I knew well but which suddenly sounded different and it was an odd juxtaposition to listen to upbeat music when I was on such a downer. The trauma of losing my hearing gave the music a different dimension for me and It transformed the album into more of a life raft.”
Given that Parton’s Meniere’s fell in the middle of this project, it’s even more amazing that this album is totally cohesive and still brims with the Go! Team’s trademark hyper-upbeat sound of brass driven funk-punk-trippin’-hip-hop. There’s always something going on in a Go! Team track. Where many bands would be trying to get a slick, super-produced sound, the GT’s want to pack a track with as much ear candy as possible with splashy sounds, electronic whoops, an unexpected instrument (banjo, glockenspiel, possibly a Theremin) that’s often running parallel with the main part of the song. There is a life-affirming clatter to their sound, like everyone within a mile radius has been temporarily drafted into the group and joined in by banging pots, pans, cruet sets, bricks, street furniture, anything!
From the opening overture/theme song of ‘Let the Seasons Work’, with its drum and horn battle in a video arcade vibe, the album is off and running in style. There’s the catnip of flute-riff and Ninja’s bouncing rap on ‘Cookie Scene’, the lover’s rock sensibility of ‘We Do it but Never Know Why’, the roller-skating-while-drunk feel of ‘Freedom Now’, the tight jabs of rumble-in-the-jungle ‘Pow’ (video below), the wobbly edges of ‘I Loved You Better’, the evocative brassy-vista of ‘Tame the Great Plains’ and the laser blasts of final track ‘World Remember Me Now’ with a chorus that will likely be stuck in your head for months to come.
This is exhilarating stuff, an album that must surely rank as one of the Go! Team’s best. Every song on Get Up Sequences Part 1 is arm waving, “fun, natural, fun” (to quote the Tom Tom Club) and listening to a Go! Team album is like running away with the circus to forever be lifted up by the brazen optimism of their sound. The exclamation mark in their name is not just there for design effect, when the Go! Team say go! they mean GO-GO-GO! so strap in for Formula Fun!
Go! Team are: Ian Parton: vocals, guitars, harmonica, piano, drums, triangle, glockenspiel, tambourine / Ninja: vocals, drums, tambourine, recorder / Sam Dook: guitars, banjo, drums, tambourine / Niadzi Muzira: drums / Simone Odaranile: drums, percussion / Adam Znaidi: bass
Review by Paul F Cook