If the old, variously attributed line about writing about music being like dancing about architecture weren't mostly nonsense, a lot of people would be out of a job. Writing about music can be pretty easy, particularly when music can easily be broken down into its component parts. That's true of The Go! Team, a six-person Brighton collective whose debut album, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, is, by bare description, nothing but component parts. But that's where the dancing-about-architecture camp has a point: Bare description doesn't do justice to the sense of undiluted, obsessive music joy that fills each of Thunder, Lightning, Strike's tracks.
But first, those component parts: The album-opening "Panther Dash" begins in noise that gives way to clacking drumsticks, a surf guitar, a hopscotch-style count-off, and a winsome Midnight Cowboy-inspired harmonica part, then squeals out into noise again. That sets the table for a playful pop collage drawing from all corners of the funkiest record store imaginable. Archie Bell And The Drells guitar parts brush up against jazz flute, what sounds like lost TV theme songs, Sonic Youth guitars, and occasional rhymes (courtesy of female MC Ninja) seemingly culled from some lost Funky 4 + 1 single. The liner notes provide no indication of where the sampling ends and the live parts begin; if the album hadn't been nominated for last year's Mercury Prize and received a major-label release, it could pass for a barely legal underground exercise, passed heatedly from one awestruck fan to the next. (And, in fact, some tracks had to be reworked to satisfy U.S. copyright laws.)
What leader Ian Parton and his band accomplish here has precedents in everything from The Avalanches' "Since I Left You" to Bomb The Bass's "Beat Dis" to The Dust Brothers' groundbreaking work with Beastie Boys and Beck. Only those last two projects rival its sense of bottomless adventure, and none of them rival The Go! Team's sense of relentless fun. A challenge to even the most hardened depressive, Thunder, Lightning, Strike finds one way after another to shake new pleasures out of old material. If it were a building, it would be an awe-inspiring, structurally sound, day-glo combination of a half-century's worth of outré architectural notions, one surrounded by dancers at all time.