Get Set Go

Selling Out and Going Home

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Back in the late '60s and early '70s, Britain gave birth to progressive rock. Nestling in that genre's arms were a slew of bands that could rock with the best of them, but were also beholden to English folk. As American's knowledge of that latter style was limited to "Greensleeves" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair." Which is good, because otherwise Get Set Go wouldn't sound anywhere near as audacious and unique as they do. On their debut album, the group seemed headed for a home in the power pop scene, but then they threw a spanner in the works with their punk-meets-folk follow-up. However, the music on that sophomore set was almost secondary to the album's overwhelmingly personal themes, as Mike TV bared his soul, foibles, and terrible failings for all the world to see. Now, with their third album, Selling Out and Going Home, Get Set Go seamlessly blend together all those styles and a bit more for good measure. So deft is the sequencing that the songs glide effortlessly from genre to genre, reinforcing the connections between them. Starting with a classic rock sound, they bring in folk elements, slide into a breezier '60s style, slip into melodic punk, fall back into early rock & roll but with a decidedly country flair, countrify pop-punk, folkify pop/rock, shift across power pop, post-punk, synth pop/rock, and speed punk, and pull up into alt folk before finishing the set off with a bright '60s-styled, folksy popper. Some of the numbers are straightforward in their genre, but many mix in elegant strings, folky fiddle, and a variety of other elements to smudge the style. The arrangements are inspired, the performances flawless, while the moods constantly shift across the set. The themes follow a similar evolution, working their way from the romantic to the sexy and into the obsessive, fearful, jealous, and pitiful in poverty. You don't have to be a psychiatrist to recognize that at times Mike TV is substituting sex and love for drugs; hey, when he compares his girl to heroin, he's rubbing our noses in it. But his own problems have made him sensitive to others', and he reaches out to comfort the hurt and warn the alienated. There's a clutch of angst themed songs, with the anthemic "Thirteen," in particular, a rallying cry for every disgruntled youth in the land. Anger spews forth here and there, as do a few raunchy numbers, but unlike the songs on Ordinary World, the lyrics are far more universal. Get Set Go aren't the first band to reach back into the past and into other genres for inspiration, but their mixture is thoroughly unique, and the appeal is already self-evident. Ordinary World rocketed them to fame, but as good as that was, Going Home leaves that World in the dust.

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