When I reviewed the Go! Team‘s debut album, Thunder, Lightning, Strike back in 2004, I described it as sounding like “the soundtrack from a 70s action film.” Maybe that comparison was related to the fact that I listened to the record a lot while playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City but the point remained that Thunder, Lightning, Strike was an energetic album that was part blaxplotation soundtrack, part lofi indie rock, and part renegade cheerleader squad. Leading up to the band’s fourth album, The Scene Between that mixture has evolved quite a bit become more of a split between call-and-response hip hop and 60s girl group inspired pop songs. For better or for worse, that mix has become one sided on The Scene Between.
Gone are the days of energetic instrumental with femcee Ninja sounding like a pumped up Da Brat. Instead we are left with the group’s leader Ian Parton reducing The Go! Team to a solo project. Working with an assortment of female singers, he creates amazingly crafted pop songs with heavy Motown and doowop influences. The album kicks off with maybe its best track “What D’You Say?” Hallmarks of previous Go! Team albums are present like the clipping drums, the lead female vocals, and the wall-of-sound production but yet it doesn’t have the same energy as tracks like “The Power Is On.”
Although that energy is never really achieved on The Scene Between, it is not detrimental to the album overall. The placid sounds of “Did You Know?” could be a bootleg recording of Camera Obscura. On the other hand, “Blowtorch” sounds like a Julie Ruin outtake.
Although some fans of the Go! Team might be leery of the record, what Ian Parton presents is his most cohesive album to date–a focus journey of female-fronted garage-pop reliant on tried and true melodies but still with experimental flourishes.