!!!: THR!!!ER — If disco is dead, if reverb sax solos went the way of Reebok Pumps and Trapper Keepers, and if funky bass lines are played out – nobody told that to California’s !!!, the dance-punk band captained by Sacramento native Nic Offer. Their latest album, THR!!!ER, is rooted in pre-Y2K groove, a danceable amalgamation of 70s disco, 80s new wave, 90s pop, and modern indie. Think Chromeo but without all the anti-establishment aggression. !!! is clearly making music for the fun of it, and their album title, a riff on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, is a nod to that cheeky ambition. Thought it can’t quite live up to MJ’s classic (but then again, what album can?), this fifth full-length album from !!! is entirely listenable and unavoidably danceable.
And for a band that has seen nothing but changes over the past few years – with eleven players rotating through the lineup – !!! (pronounced chk-chk-chk) maintains a surprisingly consistent sound. However, THR!!!ER seems to be the band’s most uniform album to date, consisting of nine solid tracks that don’t necessarily push the envelope when it comes to funk, but still provide enough originality to come off as fresh and inspired.
The album’s first track, ‘Even When The Water’s Cold’, exemplifies that kind of simplicity. Though the arrangement is basic, the song itself is catchy and fun. And even songs that deal with heavier subject matter, like ‘Fine Fine Fine’ and ‘Get That Rhythm Right’, somehow manage to avoid sounding heavy-handed.
That’s not to say that !!! isn’t capable of laying down intelligent lyrics. ‘Californiyeah’, the band’s poetic anthem to California living, is rich with imagery and conflicting themes. It’s exactly the kind of song you want to hear a band sing about its home state. Musically, it is rivaled only by ‘One Boy/One Girl’, which is easily the album’s funkiest tune. Listening to it, you get the feeling that the band itself is dancing along with you. Believe, this is the album you’re going to want to play at your next dance party. Just make sure you warn your neighbors, because you’re going to want to crank this one loud… 8.0/10