Release Date: May 19, 2017
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
When a band has been around for 20 years, it's only natural to assume they are going to start making albums that sound like uninspired knock-offs of their best work. It hasn't happened yet for !!!, and by the sound of Shake the Shudder, it doesn't seem like sucking is on the band's to-do list in the near future, either. Crafted over a course of months of sweaty rehearsals and recording sessions, then blown up and recorded quickly over a three-day span, Shake the Shudder has all of the band's trademark fierceness, dancefloor-filling rhythms, and boundless energy.
It's either a highly fortuitous coincidence or extremely unfortunate timing that !!! should drop its seventh album right when LCD Soundsystem have issued their first proper new music in seven years. Now that the usual 20-year nostalgia cycle has officially shrunk to 15, and now that there's a whole bunch of new reasons to despise Rudy Giuliani, certainly the conditions seem ripe for a post-millennial New York post-punk revival. But while the comeback narrative--and the attendant skepticism toward it--dovetail nicely with the legacy of LCD Soundsystem (whose most resonant music grapples with the impossibility of reliving the past), such associations arguably do !!! a disservice.
All the attention that is currently being paid to the early aughts New York rock scene has largely ignored !!!. The punctuation-obsessed band were contemporaries of their more famous peers, and their hybrid disco-post-punk sound was a bright light amongst the dance-punk revival. Their music has aged incredibly well in the ensuing years, which has a lot to do with their adherence to their original raison d'être: Moving butts on dance floors. That's more explicit than ever on the band's seventh full-length, which dials back the funk while turning up the four-on-the-floor grooves.
On record the band pronounced Chk Chk Chk hasn't always taken off in quite the way one might expect from an act that exists to cross the indie/dance divide. Their sixth album, however (2015's As If), saw them losing much of their enslavement to gnarly punk funk, with everything more brightly lit and their interest in jackin' Chicago house brought to the fore. That album benefited from a new interest in sampling themselves, but despite continuing with that technique on Shake The Shudder, they seem to have retreated slightly back towards sounding less like a full-on dance act and more like an indie band who fancy a little boogie.
If you spend more than an hour a day online, you are met with an onslaught of stressful stimuli. It's not surprising that this stress has seeped into what's meant to help us escape it -- media, television, dance music. And that a band like !!!, known for their political bent, would work with this stress is less surprising still. Their seventh album, Shake the Shudder, has taken this modern day stress and turned the focus onto self-preservation.
Longstanding NYC disco-punks !!!'s latest effort feels somewhat out of place when caught rubbing shoulders against the peculiar bounce of modern diasporic rhythms one might hear on the dancefloor in 2017. In a flash we're thrown all the way back in time to 2006, before global financial crashes, before Facebook, before Nu Rave was even a twinkle in James Righton's eye. Shake The Shudder is a nostalgic trip back to that time, an escape from the hell of now.
New York City's !!! claim their many years on the road have made them older and wiser. But older and wiser doesn't always mean better. The promising groove oriented post-punk that !!! honed over the last six records and 10 years has transformed from dance-punk to dance-funk. And on the band's latest release, Shake the Shudder, from dance-funk to dance-junk.
NYC's supreme party-harders dial in a limp, flaccid excuse for a ChkChkChk record Take a look at 'Shake The Shudder's artwork. Just look at that affront to Photoshop enthusiasts everywhere. I know what you're thinking: 'That lazy, amateurish and uninspired design looks so intentionally crap that it must belie an inspired record within', right? Wrong, I'm afraid.