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Okay, buzzing disco-funk-punk-electro-warehouse children, prep for white irony all topped off in sweated-out curls, because “Myth Takes,” the latest from !!!, has landed. “Myth Takes” aspires to present !!! in all its diverse dance-inducing glory, but if the album proves anything, it’s the difficulty of successfully appropriating multiple influences to make something that both works and makes bodies work.
From their name alone, !!! aspire to be all unexpected fun—or cultural pirates. The symbol ! is used to denote a mouth-click in the language of the Bushmen. !!! has co-opted the pronunciation to be “sound-sound-sound” —that is, insert any monosyllabic sound you like, be it bam-bam-bam, wo-wo-wo, or, the most well-known, chk-chk-chk. Crowding the stage with eight interchangeable-looking white guys, including three members of the now-deceased Out Hud, !!! funks out electric beats with a list of influences that are as long as frontman Nic Offer’s shorts are short.
“Myth Takes” opens like a quiet dance party on the low-down, one you’d hide under the covers, but don’t expect it to stay there for long. While !!! is known for creating the 12 minute four-songs-in-one demi-epic “Me and Giuliani, Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)” they have some less-than-wonderful lyrical turns, as in “Sweet Life,” where Nic brilliantly sings, “a-a-b-b, c-c-c-d, c-c-c-d.”
Another taste of Nic Offer’s incomparable lyrical depth: The first song hooks quickly, with a whispered “Sha-sha-sha-sha dooby / Sometimes you just stay home and watch movies.” !!! seems more like ??? at times like these.
On the whole, !!! is sexy, juvenile, and silly, particularly in “Must be the Moon,” the catchiest song in the album. The bass and the electric rolls, the astro-guitar and galactic bump: all these elements appear elsewhere on the disc, but here they’re wired into a seamless industrial complex of a song. At other times, as in “Heart of Hearts” (which, unfortunately, is the single), the looping bass thump and electric guitar become tiring and fairly forgettable.
The fairly forgettable fills most of the album, but there are highlights, such as “Yadnus.” If Offer’s hushed come-ons in the song “Myth Takes” are filled with sexual tension, this is what it sounds like unbelted.
“Bend over Beethoven,” on the other hand, is less sexual than its name implies—and more of a fantastic dance snack. The jam bounces between the ears, growing to become fully satisfying by the end of its layered loudness.
But after the fairly boring “Break in Case of Anything,” “Infinifold” closes the disc with a slow, melodic shift that could be on the soundtrack of “Garden State” for its over-the-top effort to elicit emotion.
Despite its obvious goal, “Myth Takes” is not so much hit or miss as either dance-commanding or mildly acrid. That’s the catch of looping disco-punk beats, after all, but it doesn’t mean that !!! failed: when they do it right, “Myth Takes” is absolutely perfect for washing the chirping of Kevin Barnes out of your system, even though you’re really still dying to dance.
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