In a way, 2010’s Strange Weather, Isn’t It? was !!!’s coming-out party. After serving the dance-punk underground funked-up electronic jams with a wink ever since 2003’s excellent “Me And Giuliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story),” the Brooklyn sextet beefed up its beats and waved its disco flag with pride on its fourth album. On the fifth, Thr!!!er, !!! (still pronounced “chk chk chk”) shakes its groove things like it just stumbled on the secret to dance-floor happiness.
From the start, !!! wasn’t out to revolutionize dance-punk, though it was, along with LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture, one of the first groups to revitalize the mostly forgotten post-punk offshoot at the turn of the millennium. The group falls somewhere between its two contemporaries—way more committed to sound and style than The Rapture, who seem to average one great song per album, but not nearly as consistent as LCD, whose three albums rank among the decade’s best.
Their aspirations are no higher on Thr!!!er, a groove-heavy cool-club record that never takes on more than it can handle. With most songs clocking in at about four minutes, it doesn’t waste too much time setting up or coming down; tracks hit the dance floor somewhere near top speed and end roughly around the same pace. It takes less than 10 seconds of the opening song, “Even When The Water’s Cold,” for a vocal to show up. That’s pretty efficient.
But that efficiency doesn’t leave much room for the push-pull release typically found in the best dance music. There aren’t too many curveballs on Thr!!!er. Besides the occasional falsetto, stray handclap, or wah-wah synth, almost everything here can be taken on face value. And sometimes it works magnificently, like on “Slyd,” which borrows its springy bassline from Chic, and on “One Girl/One Boy,” which features a hook sung by Sonia Moore, who pulled similar duty on MC Hammer’s “Too Legit To Quit.” But mostly it’s a passable dance hybrid climbing out of the underground and inching toward the mainstream, one wink at a time.