erasing clouds

The Go! Team, Thunder, Lightning, Strike

reviewed by dave heaton

Can you take the singy-songy chants that children use to accompany jump-rope and hopscotch games and build a fantastic party album around them? That's the musical question posed by the Go! Team's Thunder, Lightning, Strike, recently issued in the U.S. for the first time (it came out in the UK and elsewhere last year). Actually, that's an oversimplification, but the Go! Team sound enchanted with chants, with games, with the mixture of innocence and curiosity and imagination associated with youth.

Coming off like a more narrowly focused Avalanches (but with the same exuberance and willingness to play around), the Go! Team weave samples together into their own jaunty, smile-wearing, ass-shaking jams, which often could double as the theme songs to imaginary Saturday morning cartoons, or sports films from the '70s. "Ladyflash" wears its samples proudest, and mixes a Supremes ballad with early hip-hop to great effect: conjuring up endless memories of childhood magic, rocking the house sweetly but thoroughly. Other tracks reach the same effect without recognizable samples. Opener "Panther Dash" marches forward like the opening theme of a Western, but with more force, and more surf-rock glee. "Feelgood By Numbers" musically lays out the group's agenda to recreate the atmosphere of the best day you've ever spent outdoors in the sunshine with friends.

There's small moments when the Go! Team sounds like a full-on rock band steeped in British rock history, or like Belle & Sebastian (both on the gentle pop song "Friendship Update" and in some instrumental stretches throughout) - those blend seamlessly with the samples and chants and evocations of 'that summer feeling' that Jojo sang about. The album closes on a relaxed moment of friendship - nicely titled "Everyone's a - V.I.P. to Someone" - that eventually explodes into a romantic, sweeping movie theme. The whole album is ridiculously pleasurable, bright, and evocative of freedom, plus genuinely emotional, in both its expressions of pure joy and its poignant allusions to adolescence.


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