!!!: Strange Weather, Isn’t It?

RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Hot Chip

The indie rock/electronic collective !!! doesn’t make things easy on themselves, or music reviewers. A Google search of the band name, for instance, reveals no matches at all, much less lyrics or a band Web site. (Including the name of the new album, however, nets you lyrics of Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull and Glenn Frey songs.) Of course with a little more extensive searching you can find pretty much anything about the band you might want to know like, say, how to pronounce the name – any repeating hard consonant sound, apparently, usually represented by ‘chk chk chk’.

I’m guessing this is a sly comment on the repetitive nature of much electronic music, but it was probably unnecessary. These guys rise above the noise without much problem with an effective mix of rock guitar, pounding beats and swirling electronica. There are plenty of other acts doing this, of course, but not many have been around since 1996 and garnered the critical praise heaped on !!!. They have not reached the commercial heights of other similar bands, and that probably won’t change with their fourth album Strange Weather, Isn’t It? Not because it’s not an excellent album (it is) but if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not likely to. Strange Weather is actually the perfect party soundtrack for your late summer, with propulsive tracks like the album opener “AM/FM,” “Jump Back” and “Hammer.” The entire album flows well and goes by surprisingly fast, even when things get a bit disco-y on “Even Judas Gave Jesus a Kiss.”

Lyrically the album seems to land somewhere between the politically-minded “Louden Up Now” and the more booty-shaking “Myth Takes.” In truth the words mainly pass right through, not making as much of an impression as the music’s tempo and mood. You just keep nodding your head and shaking your butt and, before you know it, it’s over. Actually the easiest thing about the band is listening to them. (Warp Records 2010)