!!! (Chk Chk Chk) – THR!!!ER

Albums / Words

05 May 13

It’s been three years since the Sacramento-based Dance Punk group released any foot owning, thigh churning brain sapping tuneage – but this holding period is usual from !!!, musicians as bent on wrecking sonic pre-concepts as they are on keeping the music industry on its’ toes.

You’ll be at ease when you open this record on Pitchfork Advance: for the bands fifth reveal they change little: hitting the groove dead in the eye.

A pace as dexterous as the jangels and beats propelled leads THR!!!ER through sparse percussive moments and deeper, plush and extensive beat-terrains – these tracks always feel in control. See ‘Careful’ – theirs is an ambiance unrelenting in its’ power to settle down and groove, regardless of an always mixed tempo.

The LP occasionally spotlights some odd lyrical choices – in this light, perhaps THR!!!ER is far from conceptual and thought-provoking, but that’s not a problem when the music’s this bold.

The concerned tremors of definable funk was the topic of LPs #1 #2 #3 and #4; and much like an old friend, #5 asserts itself just as easily as a timeless dance classic.

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The miscellaneous progeny of retro dance music who call themselves !!! have reached a zenith as a bona-fide groove collective on Thr!!!er – a devilish disc which catches you creeping up the volume knob.

First to last, Thr!!!er is a buoyant, infectious record. It plays lip service to the ghosts of dancefloors past, meanwhile sweating out its own, self-generated energy.

So, while the whiff of ‘90s acid house is pungent enough to make you picture singer Nick Offer hanging off a Hacienda nightclub microphone during the likes ‘One Girl/One Boy’, there’s room enough for ‘Even When The Water’s Cold’; its easygoing tempo belying fresh and purposeful disco songwriting.

What of the title? As with all things nomenclature, !!! have laughed off Thr!!!er’s name; saying it’s not to be compared with its near-namesake by Michael Jackson. And yet, the menacing dub duo ‘Except Death’ and ‘Careful’ give us a dose of horror-pop worthy of the zombie dance, or at least a Vincent Price narration.

!!!’s persistent punk epithet is just as well. It’s not inappropriate during, say, the stonking riff of ‘Station (Meet Me At The)’ – though it’s hardly representative. But, crucially, the band’s affinity for all things beat-heavy sounds most refreshing when they traverse both unexpected and expected territory with such assurance as this.

!!! stated in interviews that they have been told to move on, but I have always thought that they were a band who were much more than that label suggested anyway.

New record Thr!!!ler feels like a much more focused affair than previous records and a real attempt to shrug off any doubts that !!! are a one trick band.

!!!’s albums often cause me to enter into a sort of slow hypnotic dance, like a willow tree living under the sea swaying to their jams. While there are moments of that on Thr!!!ler, it seems more to be aiming for much swifter harder blows. !!! feel like a band that don’t want to wait 12 rounds. They want a knockout now, and at times they certainly deliver it.

The dark disco steam of ‘One Girl/One Boy’, the magnificent ‘Get That Rhythm Right’ (Sax solo and all), the 80s/00s crisscross of ‘Fine Fine Fine’ and the tribute to early sample club floor classics ‘Slyd’.

The latter feels like it would be right at home in one of those greasy joints, with Adam Bloodworth creeping around spilling drinks and spitting on the walls until he hears this song and forces everyone in the near proximity to dance with him. “BE BETTER!” He will love this track.

Thr!!!ler- a bold title for a bold album.