After going solo for 2015's The Scene Between, Brighton-based pop mastermind Ian Parton returns with more of his signature melodic acumen on Semicircle, which, in addition to the usual collection of guest vocalists, features contributions from the Detroit Youth Choir, a particularly inspired move. Despite this influx of collaborative talent, things sound largely the same on this album, but with a project as reliable as the Go! Team, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
That said, album opener "Mayday" is an almost parodic roll call of the usual Go! Team tropes: blaring marching-band horns, trashcan beats, shout-along chants. There's nothing wrong with it, in and of itself, but it's definitely Go! Team by the numbers. Where Parton shines however (as always) is in his way with melody, and although there are perhaps fewer peaks in this regard than on previous efforts, there are some irresistibly catchy moments here that are easily worth the price of admission. "If There's One Thing You Should Know" immediately establishes itself as belonging to the upper echelon of Parton's work in this regard, featuring vocals from Maki, and the giddy chorus of "The Answer's No - Now What's The Question" basically commands you to clap your hands — relative unknown vocalist Darenda Weaver (whom Parton discovered on Bandcamp) acquits herself nicely on this one.
The title track is another highlight, featuring smile-inducing introductions from the DYC members giving their astrological signs. Hearing these honest, unabashed greetings with the knowledge of where they come from lends their performance on Semicircle an authenticity that hits hard. In fact, Parton's typical sample-heavy, live-off-the-floor production style starts to sound a little threadbare during sections that don't involve vocalists — "Chico's Radical Decade" for instance. Luckily these moments are few and far between. This is a team effort, and all the better for it. (Memphis Industries)