!!! - 'As If'

Nearly two decades in, the Californian punk funk crew's output is starting to get patchy

  • Release Date 16 Oct, 2015
  • Record Label Warp
3 / 5
Nic Offer and his Californian punk funk crew !!! have been digging their groove for almost 20 years now and while the rubbery sextet’s dancefloor workouts are deliciously bass heavy, parts of sixth album ‘As If’ find them ploughing into a rut.

Offer’s manic vocals have always teetered between inspiring and embarrassing, and here he’s pitched all over the place, adopting variable personas that threaten to drain the fun from the party. A case in point is wobbly opening track ‘All U Writers’, Offer possibly striking the first blow against the album’s critics (“All you writers / Get out your pencils and write”) with a vocal shifted so low down the register it veers close to Barry White parody.

It’s a bad idea and one he returns to on clunker of a closer ‘I Feel So Free (Citation Needed)’. “I feel like it’s just like a shower of Grammys in here” he sings unconvincingly, ad-libbing a self-referential monologue that rambles past the point of tolerance. The band fail to click either, plonking through an organ led lope that stomps on for eight minutes. It’s one track too many, a comedy finale that should’ve been snipped off the master tape once they stopped giggling.

Fortunately, between these two low points, there are plenty of fine moments. ‘Every Little Bit Counts’ has uplifting, choppy guitars similar in spirit to the unselfconscious joys of Phoenix and, despite its bafflingly poor title, ‘Lucy Mongoosey’ lets in some bright, Vampire Weekend sunshine (“We spent the day on the roof of a building / Till it was time to go home”).

Even so, !!! are more on point when they dispense with verse and chorus altogether. ‘Funk (I Got This)’ mixes cut up vocal samples with jittery guitar scratches and New York hip-hop rhythms to explosive effect. Better still is ‘All The Way’, a seamless electro excursion with Rafael Cohen’s bass curling round the beats like a boa constrictor. It’s a shame the editing isn’t as tight all the way through, but these grooves sure are deep.

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