When the going gets tuff, the tuff talk dirtee. Just days ago I would have said that Nic Offer's offer to President Bush ("You can tell the president to suck my fuckin' dick") was a little juvenile. Then Dick Cheney goes and drops the F-bomb on the Senate floor. You know what, !!! (chik-chik-chik) have this summer pegged.
Not that Louden Up Now, their second full-length, is a "summer record,"
barbecues and box fans and layin' around. No, it's way too tense for that,
bristling with alienation and inappropriate outbursts. What type of party record
features an on-the-mic nervous breakdown ("Hello, Is This Thing On?") or tries
to bait the mayor onto the dancefloor? That last bit is on 2003's smash single "Me & Giuliani
Down by the Schoolyard," which reappears here, a 10-minute jam with the dumbest
lyrics since the Happy Mondays and the best "dootle-oot-doot-doot-dooooo" breakdown
!!!'s latest foul-mouthed little nugget, "Pardon My Freedom," seems too aggressive compared with its party-hearty predecessor, but it's gonna be an aggro kind of summer in New York when a different kind of party, the Republican National Convention, rolls into town. No joke. In the meantime, smoke up, drink up, give haters the gasface, let's work up a sweat and "find a way/ to get my mind off replay, replay, replay ..."
So goes the !!! manifesto, delivered as the payload of a funkdafied smart-bomb that's one part Brooklyn, one part Madchester, guitar-meets-echo-chamber, a little Kompakt but still a little sprawling. House-music polymath Maurice Fulton, the man behind Mu's "Afro Finger and Gel," among other hot projects, chalks up an assist. You can still tick off influences (A Certain Ratio, PIL), but it's getting harder to make 'em stick as !!! pull more elements into their sound than ever before, making you realize how far this band has evolved from its indie-white-guys-play-Chic days. At the same time, Offer, their front man, has devolved, using a big pink pencil eraser to rub out the line between clever and stupid. But like any modern musician worth his salt, he comes with his own self-critique: "Does this sound intelligent? Like I give a fuckin' frick."
Well, you can't beat a fourth-grader in an argument, and you shouldn't think too hard when !!! kick out the jams. Accept those principles and you've got your soundtrack for a long, sweaty summer of soundbites. Fuck politics, let's dance just don't forget to vote.