Release Date: Jan 19, 2018
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
While fitting clearly into their back catalogue with samples, glockenspiel and flutes aplenty, Semicircle seems more inspired by 60s soul music than their previous records. With contributions from the Detroit Youth Choir and samples from a high school record from 1983, the record is, from one angle, a celebration of youthful optimism. Band leader Ian Parton also cites school marching bands as a jumping-off-point for the record, wanting to .
It seems somehow wrong that a band as youthfully vibrant and energetic as The Go! Team should be now entering their fourteenth year. Their maximalist, sunshine-infused, fluorescent-coloured pop hasn’t veered too far away from the formula established on their 2004 debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike and new album Semicircle continues their fine run of recent releases. For their fifth album, band leader Ian Parton found inspiration in the city of Detroit, both in its musical past and present. On the latter it is most evident it in his recruitment of the Detroit Youth Choir to contribute to the record.
Since they burst onto the scene with Thunder, Lightning, Strike in 2004, everything released by the Go! Team has been an exuberant blast of life-affirming, heartwarming fun. The players may change and the stylistic mix may vary, but one thing remains constant, and that's founder Ian Parton's knack for crafting genius pop songs out of obscure samples and picking the perfect people to sing and/or rap over them. After 2015's song-oriented The Scene Between, where Parton rebooted the band and populated the album with vocalists found on the Internet, 2018's Semicircle returns to the classic Go! Team approach with a few nifty alterations.
For Brighton Team-master Ian Parton, old strength-in-numbers ideals inspired the fifth Go! Team album. While 2015's The Scene Between was a near-solo, song-based set, Semicircle unites Team-players old and new, crackling with the communal joys of mob-handed melody, raucous rap and celebratory sound. If that seems a self-conscious step back to Parton's formative Team-work, it's one that sounds vibrantly alive rather than premeditated.
Picture this. You’re at a high school football game. It’s halftime. The cheerleaders, flag twirlers, and shoulder-padded Shako-topped marching band kids take the field. It’s a familiar scene, but something’s different. Instead of “The Final Countdown” or the school fight song, the pep-band starts blasting out original tunes—the sounds of 60s girl groups, old school hip-hop and Motown soul combining as the marching band goes rogue. .
Ian Parton was very particular about the gym that appears on the cover of Semicircle. It had to be the old-fashioned kind from the Eighties, the sort that a young Parton might have played in and the sort that produces a feeling of nostalgia that.
Brighton six-piece The Go Team! imbue 'Semicircle' with the high-octane vibes of a marching band taking on block party jams, Northern Soul and cutesy indie pop. It might sound crazy, but it works beautifully: it took them to the US and the Detroit Youth Choir, who steal the show with their energetic, soulful contributions on an album full of day-glo intensity. It squeezes together Motown, chattering funk, classic hip hop and uplifting pop.
For a group drawing from diverse influences and determined to base records around different ideas, there's a remarkable consistency to The Go! Team's output. Ian Parton's Brighton project that began in his parent's house and grew into a glorious mishmash of samples, live instrumentation, nonsense chants, and energetic vocals has never been less than distinctive. Like a party on a boat in the middle of a hurricane, their music is enjoyed less by picking out individual elements and more in the way it combines to ride over all barriers.
For a kid from Brighton, Ian Parton has built a surprisingly tasteful career from a distinctly postmodern lucky dip: cheerleader rap, brass blowouts, indie-pop nod-outs, 1960s girl-group melodies. If you’re familiar with the band at all, you’ll know that The Go! Team essentially make the same record every three years, with the only difference being the rotating cast that add color and flavor to the same essential recipe. Their latest excursion is only unique in the sense that it unites each end of the rainbow: its touchstones are the scuzzy charm of debut Thunder, Lightning, Strike and the blissed-out exaltations of 2015’s The Scene Between.
When you think of marching bands, you might turn your thoughts towards sporting events or perhaps a patriotic parade. It’s this type of context that Ian Parton - the Brighton-based mastermind behind The Go! Team - wishes to liberate the idea of the marching band from on the group’s latest album. Thinking of a school’s band throwing away their music sheets to take on the wealth of music beyond ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, their new record is characterised by big, bold brass, which bursts out at almost every turn on the record.
When Thunder, Lightning, Strike arrived in 2004, its delirious, sample-based fusion of 70s, funkified car chase music, Bollywood soundtracks, Double Dutch cheerleader chants, and Sonic Youth-aping guitar noise, made Ian Parton.
Tremendous as usual. Always on the right track, these guys! Fifth album, in case you were counting, and once again Ian Parton and his international friends and comrades throw the heartening upper of a feedback-sampledelic old-school cheerleader-chant marching-party we need! Now with extra marching! Seriously: big strong drums; charismatic voices; generalized sentiments and mantras that can be encouraging and poignant; tunes so irresistible they’ll run through your head for weeks…is this so much to ask? Every time a Go! Team album comes out I start to feel not just motivated but…dammit, there’s a word for it…“happy?” Hope I’m using that right. Anyone coming out of the beigework to back-handedly recommend Semicircle as more of the good-ol’ same that’s still basically preaching to the choir simply isn’t giving the group enough credit, not least because that attitude forgets that the choir can often use the encouragement.
When The Go! Team returned in 2015 with ‘The Scene Between’, an album that was a mostly solitary creation from project mastermind Ian Parton, it seemed that the team part of The Go! Team may have been abandoned. However now with ‘Semicircle’, Parton has invited previous collaborators back into the fold and they are back with an album that plans to capture the spirit of a marching band that has gone rogue… From the bombastic and brass coated lead single ‘Semicircle Song’, to the tropical steel drums of ‘If There’s Only One Thing You Should Know’, ‘Semicircle’ is an album that’s constantly beaming from ear to ear. The joyous ‘Chain Link Fence’ is full of colour and rich instrumentation, whilst ‘The Answer’s No – Now What’s the Question’ is a syrup covered psych-pop delight.