The sound of the Go! Team, a six-piece group from Brighton, England, is a stunning blend of indie rock guitars, police show themes, hip-hop beats, and schoolyard chants built on samples and then augmented by live instrumentation. The founder and leader of the Team is Ian Parton, who provides guitar and sculpts their sound. The rest of the group includes Sam Dook on guitar, banjo, and drums; Chi "Ky" Fukami Taylor on drums; Jaime Bell on bass; Ninja on vocals, and Kaori Tsuchida on drums, guitar, keyboards, and melodica.
Their first release, 2000's Get It Together, was primarily a solo effort by Parton that gained support from John Peel and others, but legal problems prevented a timely follow-up. By the time of 2003's Junior Kickstart single, the group had been assembled (and included Silke Steidinger, who left in the fall of 2005) and signed to Memphis Industries. Thunder, Lightning, Strike was released in 2004 and quickly became a sensation in the U.K., where it was nominated for the Mercury Prize, and in the U.S., where the band became an MP3 blog darling. A bidding war ensued in the U.S., with Columbia winning, but before the album could gain release, many of the samples had to be replaced (which didn't affect the quality of the record at all). The group followed up the album with two U.K. singles, 2005's Bottle Rocket and 2006's Ladyflash, and extensive world touring.
While Thunder, Lightning, Strike was an artistic success, it didn't sell the way Columbia would have liked and the band found itself label-less in America. Sub Pop soon picked them up and (with Memphis Industries) released Proof of Youth in 2007. After a long break, the group returned in early 2011 with its third album. Rolling Blackouts had the same core group as previous records and featured guest appearances by Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. After another long break, during which Parton called a band meeting and basically fired the whole group, the fourth Go! Team album, The Scene Between, was released in early 2015. With Parton calling all the shots musically and a different singer on each track, the album was both a return to their early way of working and a step in a new direction.
After the album's release, Parton played on and helped produce a song on Whyte Horses' 2016 album Pop or Not, then started work on the next Go! Team album. He brought in players from the band's live incarnation, drummer Simone Odaranile and vocalist Angela "Maki" Won-Yin Mak, and sought out some old friends -- guitarist Sam Dook and rapper Ninja -- for some old-school flavor. Once basic tracks were laid down, Parton traveled to Detroit in search of vocalists, settling on members of the Detroit Youth Choir and teens from an area high school. He also called in previous contributor Julie Margat (aka Lispector,) while adding Annelotte de Graaf (aka Amber Arcades) and a Houston, Texas vocalist, Darenda Weaver, he found while on Bandcamp. On the finished album, 2018's Semi-Circle, the players, singers, and samples combine to create a sound that incorporates the schoolyard hip-hop of early records with the more song-based style of later albums, while adding new elements (like marching bands and calypso) to the effervescent sound.