Album Review: Strange Weather, Isn't It? by !!! [Chik Chik Chik]
Very Good, Based on 9 Critics
Filter - 86 Based on rating 86%%
Californian disco-punkers !!! went to Germany to record the group’s fourth album—a much darker and danceable record than previous releases. The influence of the German club scene is apparent in “The Most Certain Sure,” while “AM/FM” has a definite New Order tinge. The group still moves within the same sphere as LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture, but if you’re not fed up with indie-electronic-dance-rock just yet, !!! is still among the best in the hybrid genre.
It's hard to approach the new !!! album without a sense of morbid curiosity. You assume the untimely death of their drummer, Jerry Fuchs, last November is going to shadow the band's fourth album with the mourning and pain the members surely felt. [rssbreak] Strange Weather is a dark album, probably more so than any of their previous Williamsburg-born dance rock records, but not entirely because of the tragedy.
By the time of their fourth album Strange Weather, Isn’t It? !!! had been making records for almost a decade. Not too many bands can keep going for that long and continue to make records that have all the energy and quality they began with, but !!! have managed it. While many of the alumni of the dance punk boom of the early 2000s have faded away or changed their sound or just plain lost their way, !!! remain as good as ever and Strange Weather is full of the kind of ferocious and funky dance punk that they’ve always done.
It’s understandable if you haven’t listened to !!! since 2005. Understandable, but not forgivable. Although there is a tendency to lump them in with NYC dance punk contemporaries from that time (The Rapture, Radio 4), to remember !!! solely within that context would be horribly unfair to a band that has crafted some of the most dynamic live-band dance music of recent memory.
In the early '00s, hipster dance-punk mania was in full swing in Brooklyn. Fun times, they were: Sweaty tatooed flesh thrusting spastically to jacked-up Talking Heads grooves. These days, there's a new generation of hips and ink, but sophisticated bass and beats have largely taken the place of scrappy high-end grooves. What was once rock's heady adaptation of dance music has blossomed into a full-blown embrace of ass culture.So, for those either nostalgic or fiending for a treble-y dance party, !!! returns with a throwback.
Yup, those big, bold, triple-declaratory exclamation points are back, coated in ice and all, on dance-rock lifers !!!'s fourth full-length, Strange Weather, Isn't It? If it looks like the image is suggesting some sort of back to basics, it's because that's precisely what this record is, moving away from the at-times ham-handed, at-times highly effective rockism of 2007's Myth Takes and more closely evoking the stretched-out, worked-up grooves of the band's earlier efforts, most notably their 2004 Warp debut, Louden Up Now. That frigid, dripping coating comes to define the record's sound as well, as the grooves here are chilly. Synth lines shiver and vibrate on top of dry, crackling drum hits.
Good covers records: I can think of three. There’s Kicking Against The Pricks. There’s the new Tom Jones album. And there’s !!!’s 2005 EP. You know, the one made up of many-minutes takes on the Magnetic Fields’ ‘Take Ecstasy With Me’ and Nate Dogg’s ‘Get Up’. Very fun. And to my ….
The strangest aspect of Strange Weather, Isn’t It? is that it is boring. If you know anything about !!! (a band name that has set off quite a trend) this remark may sound as bizarre as calling the Catholic Church scandal-free. For the Californian-NYC outfit has, over the past decade, made itself revivalists par excellence, digesting shifty dance punk miserabilism a la Gang of Four and producing piquant confections all of their own.
The punk-funkers’ return warrants celebration given the bruising time they’ve endured. Greg Cochrane 2010 Strange Weather, Isn't It? could have been more like a wake than an album. The deflated members of !!! sat on sofa-arms, feet shuffling, politely nibbling sausage rolls. It had good reason to be.