Sgt. Fidget Spinner’s Lonely Hearts After School Band
The album cover reference of The Go! Team’s newest album SEMICIRCLE, speaks loud and clear: a year into the madness that is the modern United States, young people will continue to enjoy life with their own retro flair. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the quintessential records of 1970s friendliness, and all it takes is one sitar-sounding chord of the opener, “Mayday,” to place The Go! Team right where alternative music is right now. “Mayday” plays exactly like one would expect after viewing the cover — with high school cheering choruses, horns abound, along with spoken word refrains, it’s almost like a listener had forgotten what happy music sounded like. The only thing about having such a broad, anthemic appeal, is that the act in question can start to lose some individuality. That dichotomy between generation-capturing and unique — spoiler alert — is present throughout, but with tons of fun had along the way, regardless.
No one can listen to those ice cream truck chords on “Chain Link Fence” and not feel at least a little warmer inside. Looking to a lot of other indie acts of today, and one can find a big trend of that exact kind of feel. Michael Cera’s “Best I Can (feat. Sharon Van Etten)” comes to mind, specifically. But The Go! Team doesn’t stop just at the pleasantries. The slurring synth, to melting strings starting at 1:14 proves that this team is thinking intelligently about how to present their take on what is trendy.
“Chain Link Fence” plays like a classic Beatles song, but with enough melancholic nostalgia that gives this retro a new layer of intrigue — exactly what is so fascinating about the current retro trend. This bold utilization of childish sounds doesn’t always work 100% to their benefit, such as “Semicircle Song” with its never-ending triangle. But, this song also has that zodiac introduction spoken word segment. A bold move that honestly hasn’t been done before too much. Remember A*Teens? That teen group from the early 2000s? They’re smiling in their graves somewhere at a new generation calling back to their time’s everlasting pop cheeriness.
“If There’s One Thing You Should Know” is a true gem of the album. The Go! Team’s melodic power that was first introduced in the previous song, “All the Way Live,” comes full force in its predecessor. It plays like a lost melody from Grimes’ Art Angels, with all the alt-pop glory that the girly queen herself would surely cosign on. And then that recorder sounding solo two thirds through encapsulates all the heart that The Go! Team is trying to get across.
When “retro” is thrown out there, people automatically assume Stranger Things or something only focused on one time period. But SEMICIRCLE’s true achievement is getting across the new style of backward looking. On this album, one can find modern drum tracks mixed with ’70s guitar, ’80s power stomps, ’00s pop melodies, and Sugarhill Gang raps all in one collection. Who The Go! Team is, exactly, isn’t always conveyed through the mish mosh of references and partying, but the importance of this record to today’s music is a sure fact. Thanks to the internet, young people today can connect to a rich, complicated history of all trends from every genre that’s ever been thought of. For better or for worse, that’s a very unifying thing and it’s what this album comes across as. A culturally diverse group of people sharing their stories with each other, and refusing to be enemies.