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The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike

Released on Sony -- October 4, 2005

The Go! Team arrive stateside with a sound so unique it makes you realize how much every other new band (still) sounds like the Strokes. On their frenetic debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike! the six-member band from Brighton, England takes an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, cutting and pasting together a mishmash of early hip-hop, Vince Guaraldi- inspired piano fills, noise guitar, distorted harmonica riffs, 60s and 70s TV action show theme songs, horns galore and unabashed sampling. The end product is Prozac for the ears, deliriously giddy and incredibly danceable music without a trace of disaffected angst.

Thunder, Lightning, Strike! is best enjoyed when played loud: listening to it at half-volume is like trying to appreciate the Milky Way by staring up at the Los Angeles night sky; you miss out on a whole world of texture. The euphoric jumble of sound has a distant, hazy feel, like you are hearing it through a tin-can telephone -- perhaps because the album was recorded in Go! Team founder and mastermind Ian Parton's basement.

"The Power is On" sounds like a cheerleading squad chanting lyrical double dutch while a high-speed car chase ensues. "Hold Yr Terror Close", which showcases drummer Chi Fukami-Taylor's twee vocals and pump-you-up anthem "We Just Won't Be Defeated" are bonus tracks not on the British recording. The final song, "Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone", plays like a cinematic, slightly wistful sunset.

Fans familiar with last year's British release will probably notice some minor tweaking; although the original LP included scads of uncleared samples, lawyers at Columbia Records weren't thrilled about using all that music without permission. Fortunately, these changes are surprisingly subtle: a newly-recorded solo by rapper Ninja here, a slightly altered horn track there, but nothing that affects the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from sitting through this forty-minute nostalgic joyride.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars