When your fingers flick through your mental Rolodex and search for the card marked "happy music", what do they find? For me, it's The Go! Team, every time. Tonight, when "Bottle Rocket" blasts off, I close my eyes and realise that no other band can send dopamine shooting through my system the way this Brighton bunch can. Oh, other bands make me happy, but there's always a shadow of melancholy underlying the mood. With The Go! Team, it's a 100 per cent pure, unadulterated buzz of exhilaration.
Their leader, Ian Parton, is a film and music nerd so that you don't have to be. Lee & Nancy, Holland-Dozier-Holland, forgotten Eighties rappers, novelty skateboard songs, Seventies action movie themes, and exploitation movies such as Wild Style and Blacula: he devours that stuff, chops it up and resculpts it into sublime slices of never-never pop. (That said, there's endless pleasure to be had in logging on to Soulseek and tracking down The Go! Team's source samples.)
If anything's altered between 2004's debut Thunder... Lightning... Strike! and this year's Proof of Youth, it's a shift from music for the feet towards music for the head: the title of The Politicians' "Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic", sampled not once but twice on the album, says it all.
In the flesh, the boys with their guitars (and girl, in the shape of new recruit Kaori Tsuchida) are more to the fore, if not quite centre stage: a physical manifestation of the changes The Go! Team have gone through. But it's still Ninja, their frontwoman, who runs the show. Wearing sports shorts, vest top, knee socks and trainers, she looks like a cheerleader and acts like one. A blur of high-speed moonwalks, high-kicks and star-jumps, she gamely tries to get some complex side-to-side dance moves going in a jam-packed pit, leading by example. Her enthusiasm is impossibly infectious.
Anthony H Wilson may be dead, but something in his beloved Manchester is stirring. Exhibit A: The Tigerpicks, an exuberant young girl-boy-girl trio who come on like a northern English CSS, and whose debut single, the Ronseal-ishly self-explanatory "Disco Punk Electro Funk" (complete with gloriously day-glo video) is a hyperactive, high-on-additives joy.
Their two singers, or, to be accurate, screamers – Emma "Reece" Leatherbarrow (aka Ice Cat) and Frankie Ross (aka Queen of Sheba) – with their ra-ra skirts and freshly salon-styled hair, are the Arndale Centre's answer to Shampoo. Their easy, chatty charm easily wins over this London crowd: "We were saying on the way down, 'I bet someone comes dressed as a bumble bee'." They indicate somebody who is, indeed, dressed as a bumble bee. "And there you are!"
The girls, inscrutably, have the words "Lovegood" and "The Secret" scrawled on their arms in lipstick. Keyboardist Martyn Anderson (aka Disco Hitler) has "Down Boy" on his. Wearing denim bumsmackers, a grandad shirt, a purple ribbon tie, and a Twenties sequinned flapper headband to hold back his big, backcombed Robert Smith hair, he manages to play one keyboard with his right hand and another (positioned behind him) with his left, while also operating an Apple laptop. It's quite a trick. "It's the Tori Amos in me coming out," he explains afterwards.
If producer Richard X (with whom they've been recording) can work his magic, The Tigerpicks will soon be doing more than injecting some colour back into the streets of Manchester. They can do it for the rest of us, too.Reuse content