Monday, October 10, 2005

Thunder! Lightning! Strike! Go!

Have you ever heard something so unique that the only way people can describe it to you is to name other artists? Well, that's the case with The Go! Team. I've read reviews comparing them to artists as diverse as Sonic Youth, Belle & Sebastian, and The Jackson Five. However, I think I'll just say how much fun it is to listen to their giddy, upbeat, inventive blend of genres.

Thunder, Lightning, Strike is the debut album from The Go! Team. Originally released in the U.K. back in 2004, it has finally been released in the United States. Due to problems in getting some samples cleared, some of the songs had to be reworked/rewritten in their journey across the Atlantic. Fortunately, this didn't hurt the songs at all. In fact, the U.S. version even gets two extra tracks.

The best way to describe the music of The Go! Team is to say it involves combinations of unexpected sounds. Their arsenal includes everything from guitars, drums, and horns to old-school hip-hop beats, harmonicas, banjos, and flutes. There are few vocals to be found save for old-school-style hip-hop rhymes and cheerleader-style chants. Each song is a quick burst of uninhibited fun. Their style achieves that rare feeling of sounding both modern and retro at the same time.

The opener "Panther Dash" is a fast, rocking blast of danceable fun augmented by harmonica. "Feelgood By Numbers" sounds like the lost song from a Peanuts animated special. "Air Raid Gtr" is a short interlude where a guitar is cleverly made to sound like an air raid horn. In "Get It Together," my personal favorite on the album, old-school hip-hop, flutes, and banjos collide in such a wonderful way that you can't help but jump for joy.

On Thunder, Lightning, Strike, The Go! Team have created a style all their own. It's fast, upbeat, and filled with a feeling of pure, over-the-top joy not unlike what you'd expect at a good sports game. At the same time, it's tempered with feelings of nostalgia created by musical elements that feel like they come from the late 60's and early 70's. The only real flaw of this album is that some of the songs sound similar to each other. Considering that the music on this album defies most genre labels (except dance, I guess), a little similarity between songs can be forgiven. Thunder, Lightning, Strike is immensely enjoyable and because of it, I think that The Go! Team will not remain unknown in the U.S. for long.

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