Proof of Youth is the best record of the year. First there's the grabby opener, "Grip Like a Vice," that takes this Brit band's J.J. Fad fixation and explodes it with massive multitracked drum bashing, a '74 cop-show credit roll, and a femme MC named Ninja exhorting girls everywhere to be party maestros. "Doing It Right" follows with a Motown boogie-board swerve down Willy Wonka's chocolate river. Then "My World" marinates in acoustic ripple before Proof jumps off into "Titanic Vandalism," wherein the Go! Team coalesces teen pop history into a jet-propelled trampoline. By the time "The Wrath of Marcie" kicks in, haters can eat it, because this is where the Go! Team solidifies its songwriting into pop's new template — a foundation including hip-hop bravado, '70s sunny sing-along, '60s garage stomp, punk crunch, disco shimmy, glad-trance dance, and doo-wop melancholy. A piano weeper ("I Never Needed It Now So Much") and a boss Chuck D guest spot spice up the conclusion.
Getting swept up in excitement over a record seems a quaint notion for understandable reasons (Iraq war depression) and aggravating ones (persistent irony malaise). But the Go! Team gathers its troops and rides an excitement so high, only the most deadened, dismissive eye-roller could miss it.