Music

!!!: Strange Weather, Isn't It?

!!! have a track record of misfortune. Strange Weather, Isn’t It? won’t turn things around for them.


!!!

Strange Weather, Isn't It?

Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2010-08-24
UK Release Date: 2010-08-24
Amazon
iTunes

The strangest aspect of Strange Weather, Isn’t It? is that it is boring. If you know anything about !!! (a band name that has set off quite a trend) this remark may sound as bizarre as calling the Catholic Church scandal-free. For the Californian-NYC outfit has, over the past decade, made itself revivalists par excellence, digesting shifty dance punk miserabilism a la Gang of Four and producing piquant confections all of their own. Both 2004’s Louden Up Now and 2007’s Myth Takes flogged the glorious spine-tingling assets of clanging guitars, bendy basslines and a rhythm section as exacting as wiper-blades on full speed. !!! were cool and they earned it.

Three years, a death (Jerry Fuchs, the drummer) and several defections later (including the very excellent Justin van Der Volgen), !!! seem to have acquired a taste for the Happy Mondays, Euro disco, and '90s house music. But steaming with froth and vigour their fourth album is not. Rather the band’s decamping to Berlin for its recording has cast a pall over it, painting the scene a listless monochrome. Even Nic Offer’s mildly sexy guttural croon appears to drop off into subterranean depths most of the time. And you can forget the thrillingly wayward twists and turns of dancefloor fillers of yore like “Must Be the Moon” and “Heart of Hearts”.

Curiously, when the colour does return momentarily to Strange Weather, it comes in the form of -- gasp! -- radio-ready tracks: “AM/FM”, with its translucent synths on springs, and “Steady As the Sidewalk Cracks”, which carries the double honour of having the most tuneful hook in !!!’s oeuvre thus far and an anthemic chorus. But it turns out, !!! aren’t even that good at being commercial, for this listener was scarcely left with echoing impressions for the homunculus in the brain. Indeed after the first few plays of Strange Weather, yours truly felt like a chronic depressive for whom no amount of shiny stimuli could move even an eyelid.

Suffice to say, Strange Weather is like a middling dance mix; its 10 tracks merging into a puddle of differing shades of grey that happens to have a kicking heartbeat (RIP Fuchs). Even the lyrics are bereft of inspiration and grit, with the listener getting no closer to Offer’s bygone agit-prop than on “Even Judas Gave Jesus a Kiss”, which, along with “Hollow”, is a cringe-worthy scallop of pettiness and self-righteousness.

That’s not to say that there is a fatal dearth of solid tracks to mull over. But mull you really have to before the compositional sophistication so celebrated of !!! emerges through the miasma like occasional flashes of lighting through dense cloud. “The Most Certain Sure”, for instance, is a fair stab at Depeche Mode doing neu-disco. While the percussion-heavy “Wannagain Wannagain”, featuring a nifty sax turn and Offer’s caustic stripes, is as true-to-form-aggressive as Strange Weather gets.

One of the more pleasant surprises is “Steady As the Sidewalk Cracks”. Though accessible to the masses, the song is close to shadowing !!!’s previous penchant for mixing up the elements -- jangling pop, Afro-rhythms and jazz, in this case -- without sounding nebulous. “The Hammer”, though, is by far the best track, but it comes right at the end. Its tempestuous raving mad progressive house finally got this listener's heartrate up with visions of the Klaxons being produced by Armin van Buuren. If !!! were hinting at a new direction, why not let a track like “The Hammer” be the rule instead of the exception?

!!! have a track record of misfortune. Sadly, Strange Weather, Isn’t It? won’t turn things around for them.

4
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

"I'm an Audience Member, Playing This Music for Us": An Interview With Keller Williams

Veteran musician Keller Williams discusses his special relationship with the Keels, their third album together, Speed, and what he learned from following the Grateful Dead.

Books

Shintaro Kago's 'Dementia 21' Showcases Surrealist Manga

As much as I admire Shintaro Kago's oddness as a writer, his artistic pen is even sharper (but not without problems) as evident in Dementia 21.

Music

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Proclaim 'Jazz Is Dead!' Long Live Jazz!

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad bring their live collaborative efforts with jazz veterans to recorded life with Jazz Is Dead 001, a taste of more music to come.

Film

"I'll See You Later": Repetition and Time in Almodóvar's 'All About My Mother'

There are mythical moments in Almodóvar's All About My Mother. We are meant to register repetition in the story as something wonderfully strange, a connection across the chasm of impossibility.

Music

Electropop's CMON Feel the Noise on 'Confusing Mix of Nations'

Pop duo CMON mix and match contemporary and retro influences to craft the dark dance-pop on Confusing Mix of Nations.

Music

'Harmony' Is About As Bill Frisell As a Bill Frisell Recording Can Be

Bill Frisell's debut on Blue Note Records is a gentle recording featuring a few oddball gems, particularly when he digs into the standard repertoire with Petra Haden's voice out front.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 4, James Chance to the Pop Group

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part four with Talking Heads, the Fall, Devo and more.

Music

Raye Zaragoza's "Fight Like a Girl" Shatters the Idea of What Women Can and Can't Do (premiere)

Singer-songwriter and activist Raye Zaragoza's new single, "Fight Like a Girl", is an empowering anthem for intersectional feminism, encouraging resilience amongst all women.

Music

VickiKristinaBarcelona Celebrate Tom Waits on "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" (premiere)

VickiKristinaBarcelona celebrate the singular world of Tom Waits their upcoming debut, Pawn Shop Radio. Hear "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" ahead of tomorrow's single release.

Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.