When you enter the disco, tones that took you to honkey tonks become metallic slivers, the future has arrived, and it’s less sonically dense. Music contains a visual imprint in it, to listen is to see and funk or rock actuate the same topographies in our ears’ eyes while disco began music’s movement towards a more futurist imagery. Techno doesn’t usually take us to the same places visually that rock ‘n roll does: can you imagine a rock band capable of the same synthetic paradises as Drexeyia or Kraftwerk? But !!! make dance music with only the eyes of a rock band. Their music contains a body too, and it wants you on the dance floor. It’s here we first encounter the schism separating disco from it’s predecessors: disco puts the body before the band. Rock is, at heart, a music focused on the stage or the spectacle, while techno is music empowering the listener. It’s a schism bands like Liquid Liquid or LSG have explored, prefering their tones to dwell in the imagery of rock’s basements while pushing the body towards liberation.
Almost 20 years later with the release of Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, Brooklyn-ites !!! have picked up on LSG’s thread after their initial 12″s could have been mistaken for Liquid Liquid tracks. What’s driven !!! hasn’t been lyricism, experimentation, or even originality. Rather it’s that they manage to cram into the vaunted band-spotlight the freedom of the dance floor. This is probably one of the few groups that are so much fun to see, you might not even notice they’re on stage. They’re coercive, dropping techno feats into the imagery of rock, from “AM/FM’s” opening chords to the static beats starting “The Most Certain Sure.” The build of the song, the drop, the rewind, are all dance floor exploits catapulted towards us in punk rags. This is a communal archive of moves set on stages which punk and emo built. It’s a music making you feel your body out there, dancing all through the ear.
The energy of the music aside, this is !!!’s most pop album. “Jamie My Intentions Are Bass” has a little moment of Beatles build. “Steady As the Sidewalks Crack” begins a fairly typical song before it returns to the club, wanders through a sax solo, and even has lovely guitar bridges.
It might be this combination that makes so many of the songs on this album work. All the little accents from deep house (the back up singers, the drums, the synths) are able to weld themselves with the maudlin moments of major pop bands. !!! have set their goal to never sway from the undulations of movement. This is a music that rewards the body, but it does so without requiring a previous consumption of the average danceteria’s goods.
Strange Weather, Isn’t It? finds the band in fine form. It’s an album that pushes the dancefloor up into your favorite indie pop cliches. That said, “Jump Back” sounds like an IDM fetishist remembering Joy Division, and the album still contains enough stylistic leaps to keep you on your feat.
This is a band that doesn’t really seem to care about polished, well written material. It’s hard not to feel !!! is like The Who; they’re the idiots of the scene, capable of getting heroically wasted. As the buffoons, everyone knows they’re a lot of fun. But the jester breaks the shackles of seriousness and enjoys the freedom of play. Even song titles bear little effort to the pretensions of seriousness. They sound like really bad jokes. Part of !!!’s appeal is they don’t want to be a great band. Consequences have been suspended, almost nothing really means anything as long as they play.Visit: !!! | Warp
Purchase: Insound | eMusic