What can be described as a bizarre blend of Prince, Cherub, and Talking Heads, !!! has perfected what other dance-pop groups have not. As has been demonstrated since their self-titled debut in 2001, !!! has a unique ability to combine the electronic sound of eighties disco with contemporary sunny punk and sultry jazz. There is no more appropriate name for a group as distinctive as this as three exclamation marks. !!! is the band for everyone who is unpopular for the right reasons, and Thr!!!er is the album played on repeat to keep every fumbling house party going till dawn.
Robust vocals, a soulful vibe, and rhythms that can only be described as sexy are what make up !!!’s fifth full-length album–but Thr!!!er is more than dance music. This much is clear within the first half-minute of the first track: “Even When the Water’s Cold” is an unconventional opening choice given the band’s traditionally surreal, synth-heavy funk. Its initial beat is unusually subdued, unusually bass-centric, unusually ordinary. “Even When the Water’s Cold” raises the question: has !!! become just another pop band? and the second track provides the answer: a resounding no. “Get That Rhythm Right” showcases the same textured moodiness as 2010’s “Strange Weather Isn’t It” but reaches a new peak as it introduces undertones of brass. The saxophone interludes fuse a new-wave house feel with old-fashioned sophistication. !!! is far from typical and far from being tossed into the same category as most other dance-jam bands that simply parrot the groups that came before them.
Exuding a Californian free-spiritedness, tracks like “One Girl/One Boy” and “Station (Meet Me At The)” offer uplifting summery vibrations that are impossible not to enjoy. “Careful” is the only track that holds very little weight. It’s more of a monotonous club mix with too many keys and too few non-electronic instrumental additives. “Slyd,” on the other hand, is sexy as hell, with mixed vocals of frontman Nic Offer and Out Hud’s Molly Schnick , buttressed by a slinky, steady bassline. But the best bassline on the album is easily the one paired with the guitar riff in “Except Death,” in which Mario Andreoni noodles around while Tyler Pope plays a Les Claypool-like progression.
Thr!!!er is sick, and you’ll love it for the basslines if for nothing else. A bold album in an age of twee sameness, Thr!!!er is the best of !!!’s work thus far, doing justice to the legend for which it was named.