by JEAN-LUC MARSH
Five albums and over a decade into their career, !!! continue to deliver music that caters to the most primeval desire of any music listener: the need to dance. In this regard, THR!!!ER does not disappoint. Saturated with rousing jams steeped in a newly honed funk direction, THR!!!ER succeeds in its singular goal with flying colors.
Album opener “Even When The Water’s Cold” sets the dynamic tone early on with a spellbinding rhythm featuring an addictive guitar loop. Lyrically and structurally, “Even When The Water’s Cold” is nothing remarkable, aside from the absolutely delectable bridge in which lead vocalist Nic Offer sings in a soft, near-whisper over a fading, ethereal piano, but it serves its purpose, and will have you dancing about the living room in less than a minute.
“One Girl / One Boy” is unapologetically funky. Guest vocalist Shannon Funchess makes her first appearance on the album, serving as an ideal counterweight to Offer’s deep timbre, and delivers a soulful and emotive verse amidst the seventies-inspired melody. In its second half, “One Girl / One Boy” takes one last turn, incorporating some house influences into the instrumental interlude to remind the listener that this is, in fact, 2013.
“Slyd” and “Californiyeah” both suffer from the fact that they share catastrophically odd opening moments. The former begins with tribal drums only to be saved by a female recording proclaiming “No, that’s weird,” while the latter starts off with a few microseconds of guttural noises. “Slyd” is a tightly coiled neo-funk noir tune, heavy with menacing bass, the distorted vocals of Offer, and feminine bursts of light offered by Funchess, that expands into a hand-clapping nocturnal dance floor jam. It is unlike anything else on THR!!!ER, offering a sleek take on the funk that manifests itself in more luminous and obvious ways throughout the rest of the album. “Californiyeah,” on the other hand, is the quintessential ode to the Golden State. “California save my heart / Currently it’s torn apart / I’ll make it back there someday / If I have my way,” proclaims Offer in the chorus, extolling the therapeutic properties of the great West. Then he turns around and launches an insult, singing “Now I miss California almost as much as I miss you / But why would I live somewhere where the bars close at two,” implying a more complicated relationship. Where the lyrics leave some ambiguity, the melody does not, growing into a funky, western-influenced, cavalier rhythm around the two and a half minute mark.
THR!!!ER is a remarkably fluid album, transitioning seamlessly between songs and only rarely getting mired in moments of subpar music. “Get That Rhythm Right,” the brooding barracuda in the school of otherwise colorful tracks, is one of these unfortunate moments. Offer’s vocals seem downright creepy, auto tuned into an unearthly growl that is more fear-provoking than catchy. Without the dance floor glitter found on the rest of THR!!!ER, “Get That Rhythm Right” simply passes by in ignominy, leaving with as little fanfare as it arrived. “Fine Fine Fine” is in much the same boat. Heavy on rock and light on funk, the resulting sound is tired and trite, something that can be found on any dime-a-dozen rock album recorded with drums and guitar.
!!! show their roots on album closer “Station,” a rowdy rah-rah banger with a melodic avalanche of electric guitar, drums, and tambourine. The song swells into a wildly intense chorus with the strength to evolve into a dive bar anthem. Then just as quickly as it comes, “Station” dissolves into silence. THR!!!ER has passed you by in forty minutes of dance-funk bliss, lifting you out of your seat while leaving little impression otherwise. That’s the point of dance music though: to make you temporarily forget your troubles in a frenetic frolic. !!! have mastered that concept and produced through THR!!!ER, the sonic embodiment of such an idea. [B-]
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