Eight Ball has two distinct definitions. It once refers to the duel meaning of an Eight Ball in Pool, and to an ounce of cocaine. In a game of Pool, the Eight Ball represents both good and bad luck, really the embodiment of chance. The latter definition is straight forward. Chicago based band Go Time! certainly have their work cut out for them in many ways, their usage of titles in particular. Their energy is palpable, somewhat nearly exhausting, but remarkably never self-indulgent.
Their frenetic 20 track goliath Eight Ball left me drained, but not in a bad way. It’s kind of like the high you come down from after a Roller Coaster, or a 3-hour movie of epic length. “Epic” would probably be an apt word to describe this sonic manifesto that’s pretty apt for 2021. Beginning with the razor-sharp guitar chords and slamming cymbals of “Fairy Tale Scenario”, I was taken aback by the sleek production and a sound that’s perfect for anyone who misses classic rock, especially that of the late 70s, early 80s which fits perfectly with the kind of maximalist qualities of Go Time! If you’re a fan of The Clash or The Knack, these guys are perfect for you. Scott Niekelski’s tenor, slightly nasally (but far from in a bad way) voice is highly reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s which compliments the sometimes esoteric, but always impactful lyrics. The band has a very distinct rhythm and structure that usually weaves in its song titles, but it’s never stale.
As the title of the album implies, the main thesis of the record is that of chance. Many songs are told from the perspective of respective choices one makes in their lives. It’s a very “you reap what you sow” type album. Even looking at the track titles like “Fairy Tale Scenario”, “Critical Task”, and “Work in Progress” the themes and patterns of this album are made startlingly clear and I’m sure it’ll resonate with those looking for a bit more narrative heft in their music. The band is very chameleon-like in its sound, feeling very evocative of past works, like “Planned Withdrawal” which sounds like a missing Blue Oyster Cult master especially with its fantastically engaging piano opener.
There’s a lot of subtleties that one might miss by the sheer assault of sound the band offers, but little things like the inclusion of Organ and Synth backings create a rich texture that never goes static. I suppose if I had one major complaint, it would be that some of the mixings can be a little uneven in spots and the vocals can sometimes be drowned out by the powerful backing instrumentals. It’s not a massive complaint because with the precision and originality Go Time! display, you’ll hardly find yourself noticing. At 20 tracks, it might seem daunting but it’s a wildly rewarding journey filled with evocative imagery and remarkable sounds. This is a fantastic release and a record that needs the label “to be played at maximum volume.”