With the release of their debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike, The Go! Team created a unique, high-energy sound that featured everything from cheerleader chants and hip-hop to banjos and harmonicas. The group keeps that sound and tweaks it a bit for Proof Of Youth, their sophomore release. While the freshness of their sound has worn off a little bit, this album is just as creative and just as fun as their last one.
The album gets going with the one-two punch of “Grip Like A Vice” and “Doing It Right.” “Grip Like A Vice” is a signature Go! Team dance track filled with guitars, horns, and hard-hitting drums. The whole thing is then given an old-school hip-hop vibe from member Ninja's raps (“So what you gonna do / Wanna rock the house / And turn this mutha out / Fly girls are you with us”). “Doing It Right” has an infectious beat and features those cheerleader-style chants put to great use. You can't help but sing along to lyrics like “Do it! Do it! All right!”
The energy of those two songs is firmly intact on most of the album. There are indie-rock elements running through “Fake ID” while the Double Dutch Divas lend their vocals (sampled from a documentary called I Was Made To Love Her) to “Keys To The City.” Chuck D sounds right at home on the stellar “Flashlight Fight,” a track that sounds like what would happen if the Bomb Squad produced a Go! Team song.
There are a couple of quieter moments on the album that surprise. “My World” is a simple, instrumental piece that's mostly acoustic. “I Never Needed It Now So Much” is a straightforward pop song devoid of wild horns or frenetic drums with Solex on vocals. It feels kind of like a funky Vince Guaraldi song. Both of these songs are quite good and I hope that the group explores this type of sound on a future album.
Not much has changed about The Go! Team's style between Thunder, Lightning, Strike and Proof Of Youth. In fact, Proof Of Youth might be best described as a sequel to their last album rather than something completely different from it. The album's bonus disc, featuring four tracks never before released in the U.S., takes more chances than the actual album. “Phantom Broadcast,” a great Pet Sounds-esque instrumental, is one such example.
However, what makes Proof Of Youth a great album instead of a tired retread is the overall quality of the songs. This album is just too enjoyable to get hung up over it sounding similar to the last album. Their next release is what will make or break this band. Will they just tweak things slightly again or will they throw a wrench or two into what they do? As long as they keep making great music, it might not matter either way.