PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


The Go! Team: Thunder, Lightning, Strike

Marc Hogan

The Go! Team

Thunder, Lightning, Strike

Label: Memphis Industries
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2004-09-13

One of my favorite shows growing up was Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock. Quirkier than Sesame Street, the program followed the lives of amazing underground creatures living within a literal hole in the wall. "Dance your cares away," they sang every episode, "worries for another day." Hardly Dylan-esque, but gloriously uplifting nevertheless for a mind that had yet to discover irony -- and grown-ups could dig it, too. Thunder, Lightning, Strike, the ridiculously innovative debut by the Go! Team, conjures up all the wide-eyed fun and joyful innocence of the finest children's television.

With a goofy moniker straight out of Speed Racer, this British sextet have more to teach children and the childlike than Mr. Rogers had sweaters. Since it's important to share, two women split the ever-raucous drumming duties. Because counting is fun, the Go! Team start songs chanting "1, 2, 3, 4" as if it had never been done before. And of course, everybody's special, so their music borrows liberally from an impossible pastiche of genres: Hawaii Five-O horns, Run-D.M.C. raps, Motown melodic deliciousness, fuzzy post-punk dissonance, electronic bleeps, Rocky anthemics, Le Tigre new wave. Everything is possible.

The Go! Team began as the bedroom project of Brighton's Ian Parton. The single "Get It Together" was initially released on Pickled Egg. "Junior Kickstart" followed in 2003, and "The Power Is On" finally arrived this summer. If you have mad Google skillz, you can still find the classified Parton posted to find his M.C., a London woman known as Ninja, who hurls Licensed to Ill rhymes like her namesakes presumably throw stars. The ad captures the band's sound as well as any self-important critic could: "The music is a mix between old skool hip-hop and northern soul and going for a dynamic feel like a double dutch team."

Thunder, Lighting, Strike mostly recycles songs from the singles -- but what songs! The album opens with a squeal of white noise like a plane descending. When it lands on "Panther Dash", Parton's rusty harmonica proclaims a potential '70s TV theme over propulsive rock 'n' roll guitars. "Ladyflash" ventures into Bollywood, the Supremes, electronic bleeps, and Bacharach flutes. "Feelgood by Numbers" is Vince Guaraldi and Dave Brubeck banging away at the same time on an elementary school teacher's piano. "Get It Together" opens with a ringing guitar that could build into an Interpol opus, but it's soon joined by squishy drums, a recorder (!), referee's whistles, and pure Jackson Five sunshine. "Junior Kickstart" could be the theme for an indie-rock spy movie, or better yet, a children's indie-rock spy show (Square One TV offered "detective" segment "Mathnet", so why the hell not?).

Several tracks are instrumental. Those with words apply the mold that Loveless set but few can fill, mixing vocals so low in the lo-fi clatter as to be largely incomprehensible. But the party-ready rhythm and summer's day melodies rise above the ruckus. This is probably how infants hear music, overwhelmed by sensation and oblivious to language. What lyrical snippets emerge are no more complex than the jubilant cheers of the Fraggles, yet strangely affecting just the same: "We're here to rock the microphone", from "Ladyflash", or "Come on, everybody, let's rock this break" from personal favorite "Bottle Rocket", a track that at one point lent the album its working title. The instrumentals see the band at their most edgy, from the brief, pure noise of "Air Raid GTR" to the brilliant closer, "Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone", which starts off with "Everybody's Talkin'" acoustic guitars and morphs into Air's loungey "C'est Matin La" turned to 11.

For the past few years, if not longer, the most critically acclaimed bands have often sounded just like previous critical favorites. Joy Division? Gang of Four? Mid-1990s Radiohead? Zep, Bowie, even, uh, Queen? Chances are, the 21st century has spawned a group to help you relive concerts you were too young or too unhip to witness the first time around. The Go! Team are not that group. The only obvious antecedents are sample-based acts like the Avalanches or Rjd2, but that only goes to show how unusual the Go! Team are. While Thunder, Lightning, Strike does integrate some sampling and scratching alongside the rest of its expansive sonic palette, the Go! Team are fundamentally a live band, with all the raw energy that entails.

Yeah, I know, you're all cynical and emotionless, because emo is so 1998 and you only dance to songs by good-looking Scottish scenesters. But if something deep inside you still remembers a warm feeling as fuzzy puppets danced beneath rabbit-ear antennae -- a sense that whatever you could possibly imagine was OK, that loving and sharing and learning to count and singing silly songs were all intertwined -- well, that part of you has found one of its favorite records this year.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.