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Clap along to the synth-pop of Thunder & Co

Thunder & Co happy

Thunder & Co are a synthpop duo straight out of Lisbon that lather swoon and electronica in a glaze as appealing to your ears as their countrymen’s famed expertise in cooking chicken. I envy those with synesthesia right now; I wish listening to Thunder & Co really did confuse my brain into thinking my tastebuds were lapping up the succulent juices of a well-cooked Portuguese chook. There’s some things I’m unhappy with my parents for cursing me with, and I don’t think there’s anything higher than their decision to not bring me up in Petersham.

Thunder & Co

Thunder & Co are from the 24/7 charcoal chicken fiesta that is Portugal, and they’ll make your ears… salivate.

I don’t really want to get into a dick measuring contest, but I hope with artists like Thunder & Co, I’m at least throwing something out there that’s sorta-new and sorta-interesting. In researching the Vivid piece, I looked at and listened to all the bands playing at the Future Classic gig (which by the way, looks to be the most popular event). I soon realised that Flight Facilities, Flume, Seekae and all the other there generally played from the same bag, in the way that Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer all went around playing thrash metal in the 1980s.

So first off, Thunder & Co play synthpop, which is also what bands like ol’ classics like Depeche Mode and newbies like Chvrches have been accused of playing. Whilst it’s a pretty accurate description of a genre name, it casts a bloody wide net; if you’ve listened to both Depeche Mode and Chrvches you’ll know what I mean. Secondly, there’s nothing about Thunder & Co that sounds Portuguese; everything’s in English. The song titles and lyrics; there’s no hint of traditional Portuguese folk music; etc & so on.

Perhaps though, that Portuguese influence has rubbed off as an outsider coming in seamless crafting of a range of influences, as that is what Thunder & Co have seemingly done. When you’re listening to the output of this pair, there’s little sense of an obvious aping of any of their current peers or now defunct influences. Sure, it’s synth-pop that carries the same aesthetic that existed alongside the garishly-coloured whacky shapes of the 80s and early 90s, but it’s not just an ironically unironic retread of past ideas.

Within say, O.N.O. (which seemingly stands for One Night Only, which makes up most of the song’s chorus), their most popular song on their Soundcloud, in the verses there’s levels of indie/alternative/new wave mix that is associated with conventional rock bands like Phoenix or Two Door Cinema Club. Thunder & Co aren’t a rock band though and that’s the thing: these rock influences in an electronica song are just a lick, not a lather.

Furthermore, within O.N.O. itself, the song introduces those grimy buildups we’re all accustomed to in every modern mainstream song as an extra layer as the song ages. Whilst such buildups are David Guetta‘s bricks and mortar, here they’re applied like salt to add a bit of zing, in much the same manner as the singer from Future Islands likes to death growl now and again.

This willingness to throw in a bit of everything is a nice attitude to have – I believe so anyway – as that aesthetic begins to wear off in a general sense, slowly encompassing the entire process of music production. Let’s take Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Bottom and Top for instance. This opening track of their album Nociceptor (which all the songs in this article are off; I’ll get back to the album thing later on) is a seven-minute long instrumental bundle of joy, with the boys toying with slow buildups and aimless meandering. It’s almost an ambient piece, injected with a load of fun from a fat syringe and raised a few levels. It sounds as if one of those happy clappy Christian had remixed one of Nietzsche’s songs. Actually, that’s a scenario I really wish could happen.

Most importantly though, the basic ability to write a catchy tune is what pulls these fellas through. Take Bodysnatcher – Shapeshifter for instance, a song that with its pop hook and sexual agent noun song title, could actually be an ideal song for fellow (Canadian-)Portuguese music sensation Nelly Furtado to take on. (I was thinking about her song Maneater specifically, but I get that confused with Promiscuous Girl. I don’t think I can be blamed for that, both songs came out at the same time and the videos both look the same, to be honest. So think of Bodysnatcher – Shapeshifter as being some sort of intermediate mash between Maneater and Promiscuous Girl).

So if you’re looking for some great tunes that may be dour but catchy (Paul Lester from The Guardian said that first, not me), light up Thunder & Co! Nociceptor (named after the receptors in our brain that makes us feel pain – what was I saying about Nietzsche?), their debut full-length was released two months ago, but it looks like it can only be found on Soundcloud and Spotify.

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April 10, 2015

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