!!! are by definition FUN. Once you move past the confusion of how you pronounce their band name (it’s “Chk Chk Chk”), you realize that it just adds an extra emphasis on maximum excitement. Their musical goal in life is to get you pumped, get your body moving, and maybe even get you dancing. And this they have achieved, with every one of their previous records; they’ve been shaking booties since 2001, and they don’t plan on stopping now.
Their fifth full-length, Thr!!!er, definitely has a dance rock element similar to the band’s previous releases, but there seems to be a unexpected pop music emphasis to this album. The opening track, “Even When the Water is Cold,” is an odd choice for a start. It sounds off-kilter for !!!, who always struck me as a band who didn’t really care what you think (hell, they don’t care if you can’t figure out their band name) — but now seem to be heading into more mainstream territory. This is a new realm for the band: making normal pop songs, with no synthy dance tangents, or spaced out surreal moments of zen.
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!!! – “Slyd”
The second song, “Get That Rhythm Right”, is more of what we are accustomed to for the band, with long, slow buildups to the chorus, wildly sprawling harmonies, and a sense of that something odd is going on that you can’t quite put your finger on. “Slyd” is the best example of a more (and I use this word loosely) traditional !!! song, with sparse vocals intermixed with heavy bass, percussive synths, and a repetitive (but never boring) chorus. “Except Death” is one of my personal favorites from this record, because it reminds me of a track from Myth Takes, my most favored !!! studio album. The band gets extra-funky on this track, and I can’t resist doing a few shoulder bounces in my office chair. Twangy basslines abound, and vocalist Nic Offer turns it up on octave or two on his chorus vocals.
“One Girl/One Boy” is probably the stand-out “pop” single on the album; this could be played on national radio and no one wouldn’t even guess that it is !!!. Albeit a pop song with a very noticeable disco-funk angle, it’s still quite accessible considering the band’s previous material. It’s a love song, to boot. The chorus sings, “When I hear that song/I think about one love/ I think about you.” !!! are not typically known for their romance or pop-accessibility, but you could play this for your momma, and she probably wouldn’t blink an eye! “Californiayeah” is the same sort of song — one with a more traditional song structure, and an extremely hooky chorus.
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!!! – “One Girl/One Boy” Music Video
The album in general continues this way: one rather straight-forward pop song, with one song that could have been a b-side from Louden up Now — but even these b-sides are slightly less boisterous and irreverent than anything from the band’s previous albums. There is still a familiar sense of glee, excitement, and rowdiness that comes from listening, but it feels tempered, with much shorter songs. The longest track on this record clocks in at about five-and-a-half minutes, which is unusually quick in comparison with previous albums, which had song lengths averaging seven or eight minutes, at least.
!!!, whose numbers generally hover around at least 8 members, have all been playing music since the mid-’90s. Their original decision back then to transition from post-hardcore band to an electronic dance music outfit was a rather shocking one; perhaps the band is still transitioning into something different. This is definitely not meant to be their swan song. !!! have plenty of fight in them left.
1. Even When The Water’s Cold
2. Get That Rhythm Right
3. One Girl/ One Boy
4. Fine Fine Fine
7. Except Death
9. Station (Meet Me At The)