“Maturity” isn’t necessarily the first word that comes to mind when talking about the music of The Go! Team, and that their sophomore album is titled Proof of Youth doesn’t really help matters. Still, what impresses most about the record (aside from its cover art, anyway) is the sextet’s growth into a legitimate band with a definite game plan for crafting their own captivating style of pop. Less dependent on memorable samples than its predecessor, 2005’s Thunder, Lightning, Strike, Proof of Youth nonetheless piles hooks on top of hooks on top of hooks, with standout tracks such as “Titanic Vandalism” and even the instrumentals “My World” and “Patricia’s Moving Picture” showing the kind of robust tunefulness that outstrips recent good-to-great efforts from avant-pop acts like !!!, Ratatat, and Art Brut. It’s no small feat that The Go! Team have learned how to build most of their songs around cheerleader chants (courtesy of Washington DC’s Frederick Douglass All-Star Cheer Team) without detracting from their exceptional pop melodies or, even more miraculously, conjuring any post-B-A-N-A-N-A-S novelty connotations. Opener “Grip Like a Vice” has already staked its claim as one of the year’s best singles, and it’s not even the strongest cut from the album. “Fake ID” incorporates a xylophone line into a track driven by heavily distorted punk guitar riff, and the horn-, siren-, and megaphone-drenched “Flashlight Fight” boasts a predictably furious delivery from Chuck D. As purely exuberant as most any album in recent memory—Junior Senior’s Hey Hey My My Yo Yo and The Boy Least Likely To’s The Best Party Ever are a similar kind of straight-up escapist fun—Proof of Youth is also an exceptionally well-sequenced album. The Go! Team have been mixtape favorites for a couple of years now, and every fade-in and chord change on Proof of Youth is perfectly calibrated to make for seamless song-to-song transitions and for an album that seems to end entirely too quickly. Beyond their development as a band, it’s that kind of attention to detail that makes this a more mature record from an act with a recombinant-pop style that’s as forward thinking as it is exciting.
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