Album Review: !!! - Strange Weather, Isn't It? (Warp)

Chk Chk Chk
The dry, shiny production styles and musical bent of the '80s has become something of an over forested plot of land over the last year or so. Bands from both sides of the Atlantic proudly flaunt their scratchy copies of Combat Rock and Some Great Reward while claiming their cassette dubs of Rhythm Nation 1814 are there for irony's sake. Their attempts to pull us into a new neon-tinted age have by and large been poor facsimiles of their above-referenced influences. But some bands, like the loose-limbed disco funk collective !!!, take that 30-year-old template, improve upon it, and leave a string of party anthems in their wake.

Their latest album finds the octet in that glorious sweet spot between loose and taut, the perfect place for a groove-driven band to be in. What helps is that they are allowing much more space to open up in their songs than ever before. The rubbery pulse of "Steady as the Sidewalks Crack" and the crackling beats that drive "The Most Certain Sure" and "Even Judas Gave Jesus A Kiss" - the busiest songs on the album - are given breathing room thanks to the players sidling in for a quick stab of melody or post-production accent.

Vocalists Nic Offer and Shannon Funchess manage to steal the show from their instrumental counterparts throughout the album. Offer shows off his slinkiest melodies (the hook for "Hollow" will stick with you for days) and an assuredly sexy attitude on many of the tracks here. Funchess echoes that attitude while avoiding the role of a disco diva by laying back and providing a cool breeze to temper her vocal partner's humid approach.

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!!!, Album Review

Independence in Art, Music, Beer and Life