Saturday, July 3, 2010

!!! - Strange Weather, Isn't It?

!!! is the Phish of the nightclub scene, jamming mercilessly on dance grooves that seem to go on forever. Instead of making an album for hippie kids lighting up bongs in spacious fields, the band has crafted one for those who prefer dusk-to-dawn raves in dimly lit basements. Frontman Nic Offer likes to joke that he can leave band practice for a couple hours, returning only to find everyone in the same spot as when he left—jamming.

For Stranger Weather, Isn’t It?, the Brooklyn-based band, who has recorded everywhere from Nashville to Sacramento, took on Berlin. With Brian Eno and all-night techno clubs as inspirations, !!! built an album where layer upon layer produces a slick, club-like feel. The bass pops in all the right places, other-worldy synthesizer effects swoop atop the pulsing disco rhythm, and Offer sticks with iniquitous half-sung, half-spoken lyrics, like “Jamie, my intentions are bass.”

On their fourth album, the four members of !!!—pronounced “chk chk chk” or as any three consecutive syllables—champion Talking Heads and the danceable bounce of the ’70s without making it sounding like a throwback. The chorus of album opener, “AM/FM,” contains the kind of echoing vocals that recall quintessential Vogue-era Madonna, and the “don’t stop” refrain of “The Hammer” is the perfect hooky reminder that fatigue is not an excuse to quit dancing.

Stranger Weather flows nicely, keeping a consistent pace from start to finish. Yet nothing stands out like their noteworthy grooves from 2007’s Myth Takes, where “All My Heroes Are Weirdos” explodes with vibrancy, and the title track gains momentum with spaghetti western guitar licks. This time through, !!! remembered to bring the party, but they forgot the favors that fans have come to expect—grooves that make the body explode into dance spasms.

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