The Go! Team really doesn't sound like any other one band on the map right now. Imagine a world where the Jackson 5 gets a raw makeover, your high school cheerleaders have street-cred, and Public Enemy doesn't need samples. Over the past couple of years, the band has backed its buzz-worthy debut by playing tight live sets across the globe, and now it's time to fight the sophomore slump.
Proof of Youth is the group's second set of instantly recognizable tunes, blending hip-hop, harmonicas, horns, schoolyard chants and crashing drums. Where the team's Thunder, Lightning, Strike debut rode instrumentals befitting '70s TV themes, this release steps further into the hip-hop arena. Quick bursts of rhyme in the style of jump-ropers (usually delivered via the band's cheer-hopper Ninja), repeatedly barrage the listener, calling to take action or at least to groove your thang.
There is an overwhelming sense of urgency and additional chaos added to the formula this time, however, which basically sounds like they picked up love for rocking on a stage last time out and now anticipate playing these new tunes live with vigor. "My World" and "Flashlight Fight" — the album's two standouts — couldn't sound any different but perfectly illustrate the endearing qualities of the band. "My World" is a mostly acoustic instrumental that forces you to look back fondly; it could have been used on TV's The Wonder Years. And "Flashlight Fight" cuts and thrashes over raps delivered by Public Enemy's Chuck D. It's absolutely brilliant. The only drawback here are the vocals, as they are too lo-fi for their own good. Try singing along in the car and the instrumentals drown out the child-like chants. Clarity issues aside, though, this album feels great overall.