There's no denying that The Go! Team are probably one of the happiest, bounciest bands around. Their debut album "Thunder Lightning Strike" was Mercury nominated and with good reason - their catchy pop tunes were fresh and inventive, with "Ladyflash" in particular being a stand-out track.
Move on a couple of years from "Thunder Lightning Strike" and The Go! Team released "Proof of Youth", which is essentially the same album but maybe a bit grittier and more understandable.
An explanation is due: many of the songs on "Proof of Youth" have more recognisable lyrics, so Ninja's vocals aren't being swamped so much on this album. However, the arrangements of the songs are pretty much the same as "Thunder Lightning Strike". I'm not saying this is a bad thing at all - we could all do with some happy, dancey pop blasts at some point in time.
That said, "Grip Like A Vice", the first single that was lifted from this album, does show a slight change in direction. There seems to be more focus on the vocals here, rather than the beats and synths underneath. This mantra of giving some space to the singers goes out of the window come track two though, the wonderful "Doing It Right".
Perhaps the only song that feels a little, well, odd is "Flashlight Fight" which has Chuck D doing a guest rap slot. I think he is a little out of place against Ninja's style of singing - they clash rather than mix together nicely.
Placed next to "Thunder Lightning Strike", "Proof of Youth" can be seen as an inferior imitation. Perhaps the fairest way to place it though is that The Go! Team have attempted to put together a different album without losing any of the ideals of their debut - which is a goal they achieve successfully, if not for that one slight slip-up. Their new single "Milk Crisis" is probably a better indication of things to come - the emphasis there is more on guitarist and vocalist Kaori and it has a more distinct rock sound in comparison to most of the songs on "Thunder" and "Proof". Definitely not a bad album by anyone's standard - just don't expect to find anything radically new.