Sunday 12 May 2013

!!! - Thr!!!er

There are three stages of criticism when listening to 'Thr!!!er', the fifth album from the Californian band since their debut release in 2001.

The first is that name.  !!! might look cool on paper, but how the hell do you pronounce it when chatting to your mates?  At the very least, it creates an air of mystery and intrigue around the band, but it may also have hindered any movement towards a mainstream audience.

The second is dealing with the grating vocals.  The band's overall sound is dance-funk, with frontman Nic Offer's flat vocals adding a punk edge that's at odds with the bright production.  Something of an acquired taste, the half-spoken half-sung style is certainly distinctive, but most of the time they're simply out of tune - particularly on opener Even When The Water's Cold.  The album's best tracks are those that minimise the vocals.

The third stage is final appreciation, beyond the band name and the vocals.  The band may not have strayed too far from the sound they established back in 2001, but 'Thr!!!er' is their strongest album yet.  It's crammed with funk riffs, slinky bass lines and memorable hooks, in a (sometimes confusing) concoction of funk, punk and dance.  When they get things right, the results are brilliant, whether it be on the funkier tracks (summer party anthem One Girl / One Boy; the low-fi, drum heavy Fine Fine Fine; Except Death and its falsetto vocals and instrumental outro) or on the more dance-orientated tracks (minimalist house track Slyd; the shimmering synths of Careful).  As a whole, though, the album is something of a mixed bag.

And that name?  It's pronounced Chk Chk Chk.  So there.


Gizzle's Choice:
* One Girl / One Boy
* Slyd
* Except Death

Listen: 'Thr!!!er' is available now.