Go Time! – VI
The power trio format remains popular in various styles for a number of artistic reasons. The largest reason is the uncluttered musical format it provides the band. One guitar, bass, drums, and voice minimizes the potential for a band’s songwriting to become mired in over-instrumentation and lends itself to providing the necessary spaces a song needs to breathe. It concentrates energy. There are no sideshows, no unneeded adornments, and no dross. Instead, Go Time writes songs that plunge forward immediately into the deepest end and never come up for air until their conclusion. These are songs as an immersive experience and Go Time’s verve and gusto demolishes any distance between the band and listeners that makes the eighteen songs on their most recent album, VI, a bracing experience for the band and their audience alike. Scott Niekelski, the band’s singer/songwriter/lead guitarist, has a vivid and fecund creative imagination that spills out melodies on this album and makes it one of the richest guitar-fueled experiences of 2016.
One of the album’s catchiest riffs kicks things off. “Human After All” opens VI with a melodic, well composed guitar riff with a hook certain to lodge itself in listener’s memories. Many of the eighteen songs on VI are powered by a high octane musical step, but it isn’t all just careening near-chaos given loose musical form. Go Time knows how to properly harness their musical energies in such a way that their tracks always have a slightly raucous quality yet are kept between the lines by their unquestionable and very commercial melodic sensibility. “Drop the Act” shares many of the same characteristics, but they barb their guitar hooks a little more here and the lyrics certainly aim for the jugular in a way that the first track does not. “Broken” is acoustic driven and has a much more laid back feel than what we are accustomed to hearing from this band, but even the shimmering guitar lines worked into this composition have a darker hue lurking just beneath the bell-clear production. Niekelski explores a whole other side of his vocal talents here to memorable effect.
There’s a little bit of humor to go along with the light classic roots rock vibe that makes “Misperceived” chug along so strongly from the start and Niekelski delivers an energetic, strong vocal. “Living Beyond the Fray” has assertiveness from the start, but it remains even-tempered throughout until late in the track when Go Time ramps up the tempo and intensity for a particularly rousing ending. The melodic bass playing on “Black Space” is invigorating and adds a lot to what otherwise might be a middling mid-tempo rocker. “Might Not Be Enough” may seem a little back to basics and over-simplified to some, but the directness will get over with more listeners than it alienates and Niekelski’s lyrics are quite strong. The album’s conclusion “Straight to Snuff” boils over with some of the same intensity that’s distinguished many of the earlier songs and is an excellent selection for their curtain closer. With each new release, Go Time continues to mark themselves as one of the best power pop guitar bands working today. They are instrumentally superb on every level and couple that with songwriting that imaginatively goes the extra mile to make substantive personal and wider statements.
8 out of 10 stars