Remember when disco was lame? It really wasn’t too long ago when the genre was subjugated to the culture-mulching bowels of semi-ironic baby-boomer radio and VH1 retro-tainment afternoon programming. It had a defined beginning and a regarded end, splintering off into the ever-changing nomenclature of club-focused dance music.
But then the 2000s happened, and from the scarred landscape of New York trotted out a troupe of hipsters bored with the stand-still look-aloof uniform indie rock had always subscribed to, and began to reconsider the synthesizers they once found hopelessly uncool. These bands – The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem and even the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – invited the indie populace to the dance floor for the first time, and the scene has never been the same since.
!!! (pronounced ‘chk-chk-chk’ for the uninitiated) is probably the most venerable of the first-wave dance-punk (or disco-punk, or indie-dance, whatever you want to call it) bands; after all, they’ve been together since 1996, although it wasn’t until 2003 that the band really hit their stride. Strange Weather, Isn’t It? is their fourth record together, and it’s fair to say that it marks the moment where !!! has thoroughly mastered their craft. It’s the album where the shine of unexpectedness fades and air-tight songcraft shines through.
!!! are still very, very fun. It’s probably the most important component to the band’s charm, and Strange Weather is enthusiastically stuffed with tracks that seem to be written specifically to get aparty going. Primaries Nic Offer and Tyler Pope once again show their love for percussion, offering spiraling rhythms throughout the record – the drums are the most noticeable thing about the songs, but there is still plenty of disco flavour with synth-spills and Saturday Night Fever big-band brass squeals reappearing often. Simply speaking, this is a hard album not to dance to.
As such, like the entire !!! discography, Strange Weather doesn’t really come to life on headphones. It’s practically a soundtrack for pool parties, clubs, and makeshift living room dance sessions. The album knows exactly what it wants to do, and accomplishes it with grace. It’s an album for DJs; these are songs you’d expect to be played for you, not material you’d necessarily play yourself.
That doesn’t stop Strange Weather from being easily the most ebullient, accessible, and gorgeously compact album !!! has ever put their name on. And you’re not going to find nine songs that will keep your hips moving quite like these.