Since piecing together debut album 'Thunder, Lightning, Strike' as a solo project comprised of samples, found sounds and whatever else took his fancy, Ian Parton has spent a decade or so working with a band and a handful of different vocalists, most notably the usually ever present Ninja. The idea for fourth effort 'The Scene Between' was a little different. Parton went back to how it all began: he wrote, played and recorded the entire record on his own, deciding that vocals would be added after, and that each track would be sung by a different person. To add a twist/element of surprise, he decided to only use vocalists he'd never heard of before.
The second major difference this LP has over its predecesors is that, rather than building tracks from samples and splinters of ideas until they fitted, the plan was to write songs in a more conventional manner, then add the various hallmarks and so on at the end. The seeds for this approach were sown on last outing 'Rolling Blackouts' which, as well as short experimental pieces, contained what could really be described as experimental indiepop songs. Single 'Buy Nothing Day' was perhaps the best example, both in terms of structure, and also in terms of a guest vocalist (Beth from Best Coast on that occasion). So, has the change in composition methods paid dividends?
On first listen, it could be said that 'The Scene Between' lacks a little of the punch of The Go! Team's past work, and you can pinpoint the sanding down of the hip-hop side of things as a likely reason why. All the vocalists are female, and all are singers as opposed to rappers. So without Nija or guests such as Chuck D (a very rare example of a male voice on one of the band's songs) we're very much looking at a turn towards indiepop - albeit with the trademark samples and production. However, after a few spins, Parton's new method really starts to make sense. There's more melody here than most bands fit into a career, and every track starts to glisten in a way that few others can manage. This is, as usual, full of sunshine.
Clattering drums and found sounds hit us from the off with 'What D'You Say', a song you could call a single contender were it not for the fact that 'The Scene Between' has barely any songs that could be conidered otherwise. The driving, slightly noisier 'Waking The Jetstream' has a killer chorus (see also the griity yet twinkling 'Catch Me On The Rebound', the magical dreampop we find on 'Her Last Wave', closer 'Reason Left To Destroy' and many others). Besides anything you could reasonably desribe as rap, the ingredients that have made this band inimitable are all present and correct, yet the standard of songs is, overall, higher than ever before. From the ripping, chainsaw guitars of the aptly-titled 'Blowtorch' to the pensive, pretty 'Did You Know?', it would take a cold heart to argue that Parton and his selection of vocalists have provided another masterclass in the art of making music sound really really good. The soundtrack to summer has arrived, and it's a total delight.