The Go! Team.
That’s literally the tweet.
What’s there to say about them? You’d have to have a Sequoia up your ass not to love them. They just released an album a couple weeks back now. It’s the picture on this article. Get Up Sequences Part One it’s called. Is there a Part Two in the cards? Well, hey… I’d not fight it, but nothing about this smattering of HEATERS seems particularly out of character for TGT at this point. Pretty standard horn and tambourine-heavy plunderphonics guaranteed to wrench your frown into a smile before you even know what happened. And I’m not writing this to get you to listen to it. It rules, but if you give 10 seconds a chance, you’re finishing the thing. I’m not even worried. I’m just here to give you an objective ruling on the newest outing from one of the most fun, most consistent bands still cranking stuff out--a ruling on an album I’ve been looking forward to for ages--and to totally OWN the fools out here confusing that consistency with staleness. That’s right. You will be owned as you will be pwned, and believe you me when I tell you that you will be pwned.
So, imagine you and I exist in a void. Just us. Actually, imagine you’ve floated around your whole life by yourself just with an iPod Nano and on that Nano is enough music for you to form some basic opinion about the medium. Now imagine you bump into me and I say “Hey, I’m going to tell you about Get Up Sequences Part One by the Go! Team!” Then I flash you my iPod Touch, because I manifested one and you were only able to manifest the Nano. So, not relying on any preexisting knowledge of TGT on either of our sides, I would tell you the objective facts about the thing: First and foremost, it’s a headphones album. From the opener, “Let the Seasons Work,” on through my least-favorite-single cum impeccable closer “World Remember Me Now,” the music runs deep. Beneath the crashing of cymbals and quacking, beeping synths one will find more beeps and whistles, more horns and claps than you could ever rationally expect a band to crank out. They’re maximalists in that way, and use their musical drive to tap into the part of one’s brain to find that gland that loved the music of Sesame Street and all of those upbeat dance songs on their nineties VHS tapes. Oh, I forgot! Neither of us have any idea what those are. I guess what I’d say is that what we have here is everything that you could want in an album, and that you should start moving away from me. Chances are after twenty-three years of floating I will be hungry.
My frustration in the album is not remotely the fault of the album itself. It’s the critics giving this album some arbitrary rating. Like six out of ten, think like that sort of rating, and I know taste is subjective, music moreso than any other, but digging into what could possibly warrant a rating this low one is likely to find only a couple excuses: Those couple excuses being “The Go! Team aren’t evolving musically” and “Three of 10 songs are instrumentals, and that’s… a bad thing(?)”
Okay. Fine. Now, I’m going to knock this second one out first, because, well, it’ll take two sentences. The Go! Team was never about the lyrics. They were, and are, about the feeling. Got it? Lit. They aren’t filler, sans “Freedom Now”. In fact… they’re killer. And I came up with that.
As for the musical-evolution, that’s tricky. I’m in the “if it don’t broke, don’t fix it” camp, but Marc Hogan of Pitchfork and Charlotte Krol of NME to a lesser degree feel as though plunderphonics has been dead in the water a good while. TGT seem to want to be a band out of time, but according to Hogan, they’re a band firmly rooted in the days of De La Soul (nearly a decade apart at their peaks) and The Avalanches’ Since I Left You. In the big days of sampling. In the days of the early internet. And reading this review, it read to me as though Hogan himself can’t separate the era of a band from when he discovered them personally. Now, maybe I’m cherry-picking here, maybe he’d argue I was twisting his words, but one thing he did say was, and I quote, “[Ian] Parton honed his “channel hopping” approach... right before mash-up artists like 2ManyDJs and Girl Talk knocked down the walls between musical styles for good. But the notion of genre has diminished potency today. And plenty of mysterious magpies have followed in the Go! Team’s footsteps.” Who, Mark?? Who are we talking about here? Fergie? Who else samples at all anymore?! We have The Avalanches, who have evolved, sure, but what nobody seems to realize is that evolution isn’t some sine qua non. Artists evolve because they want to try something new, learn more, get smarter… and it is often a relatively unconscious effort. While some see TGT as being stuck, it’s just as easy to see--considering they’ve not got a weak album in the bunch--that they’re doing it on purpose, and have not lost their special sauce. And make no mistake, the fans aren’t complaining. None of them are throwing their earbuds at the ground going “Dammit! Fun again!”
Which isn’t to say the album is just mindless pop either. Even apart from the nineties-era rapping, sampling and varied instrumentation, the lyrics are surprisingly quite mature. Both Hogan and Krol don’t seem to feel any cohesion with Get Up Sequences Part One, which is a complaint so nonsensical to me it’s like they pulled it from a hat. Krol is more polite, but they both said it, which leads me to question a lot of things. The songs flow into each other incredibly well, and the lyrics follow the same consistent theme so… are you still on about the instrumentals? Did you two even read the lyrics?
Matter of fact, it’s one of the more cohesive GT records out there! The title refers to a collection of confidence-boosting songs, following narrators at particular low points (get-get, get-get, get-getting on up) and as the tracklist makes its way higher, their triumph becomes more palpable, leading to the absolutely earth-shattering climax of “A Bee Without Its Sting.” It’s the only overtly political song here, and even then it’s vague enough so as to not date itself. It’s the story of the little guy. It’s an empowerment anthem, and one of the lyrically more nuanced of its ilk I’ve heard in some time. Then our closer, the happiest sounding song on the album, offers an uncharacteristically downfacing take on what might happen if one doesn’t “get up,” so to speak. Unlike every other narrator on the album, this one is down on herself, and dooms herself to a life of yesterdays, just “carbon cop[ies] of tomorrow.” But you wouldn’t KNOW that if you didn’t read the lyrics, would you, Mark? Yeah. That’s what I thought.
The tl;dr here is that Get Up Sequences Part One can easily hang with the Go! Team’s best output, and to give an album a chance even when that album isn’t as acclaimed. Particularly when it’s an artist you love! You never know what you’ll see in an album that others don’t, because nine times out of ten, any death knell delivered in an album review is a matter of opinion on the part of the critic. “But Hank,” you ask. “What makes you any better? You shit on music all the time!” Well, the answer is simple, I’d say. Because I live in a void, and this album’s there with me.
Now don’t make me eat you. I need little to no provocation.