If the Go! Team’s second album, Proof of Youth, sounded like they were remaking their debut, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, Rolling Blackouts sounds like they are remaking Proof of Youth. Like that record, this is filled with guest appearances, great songs, and a sense of collaboration that was missing from the sample-based first record. However, while Proof had a few weak points, Blackouts has practically no flaws at all. It’s a thrillingly joyous and fun record that bursts out of the speakers with the call to arms of "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." and rarely lets up. If you thought that maybe the initial idea behind the band as concocted by Ian Parton, the sample-based blending of hip-hop, soundtrack music, indie rock, and hooky pop songs, was going to run out of steam or start to sound forced, you’d be way off. Way, way off. Parton seemingly used the time between albums to line up perfect collaborators, tweak the sound just enough to give it more life, and with his core band write a batch of wonderfully realized songs. From jangling, jet-powered rock tracks, schoolyard-with-strings hip-hop battle jams, and widescreen movie theme ballads to bubblegum sticky pop songs and rumbling gospel throwdowns, Parton and crew can conjure up almost anything and make it sound just right. The vocalists Parton chose fit just right, too. Dominique Young Unique’s gum-smacking nonchalance and sassy rapping on “Apollo Throwdown” and “Voice Yr Choice” are a nice contrast to Ninja’s enthusiasm and fire, Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki’s wide-eyed innocence sweetens the work-hating anthem “Secretary Song,” the long-running lo-fi genius Lispector’s singing on the ridiculously catchy “Ready to Go Steady” should inspire everyone to check out her albums, and the London African Gospel Choir gives the record some class on “The Running Range” (which also features some fun yelping from Marina Gasolina). Best of all is the feature for Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, who in a feat of seerdom not known since the days of Nostrodamus, Parton contacted long before she became a ubiquitous poster girl for weedy indie rock. “Buy Nothing Day” is the record’s highlight, as her vocals and the song combine to make the kind of song that would be a huge pop hit if the radio would only allow it. The near-perfect combination of guests, brilliantly constructed songs, and sounds that fit together like a multi-colored Lego wall of sound make Rolling Blackouts something very special.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra