!!!: Myth Takes

Myth Takes

Nic Offer is a crazed, flailing dork, and he doesn't know when to ease up on the throttle. This has caused some problems in the past—!!!'s 2004 album Louden Up Now was created under the illusion that "like I give a fuck about that motherfucking shit" is an amusing phrase to put in the chorus of an ostensibly political anthem—but when the genre you operate in is referred to as "dance-punk," it's inevitable that fulfilling both halves of that equation takes precedence over any attempt at self-serious brow-furrowing. To borrow a motto from electro-weirdos Coldcut, !!! turn the Stiff slogan "Fuck Art, Let's Dance" into a goggle-eyed declaration: Art Dance, Let's Fuck.

Myth Takes dials down the inanity while preserving the absurdity and immaturity, which makes it a fine successor to the band's last great moment, the elastic funk of the 2003 single "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)." Offer is a prominent, often attention-grabbing vocalist, restrained and hiccupy, elastic and tense, prone to muttering or barking some alluring lyrical dippiness; he makes the embarrassing, sexually inept one-night stand in "Must Be the Moon" sound like a blast, and there's a phrase in the title track—"and nothing never matters 'til it's shattered/Smothered and covered, splattered all over Manhattan"—that might be both the best and most uncomfortable line to come out of this whole scene.

But Myth Takes works best as an exhibition of what !!! can do when they let the rhythm make the big statements: the shuffle-thump of "Yadnus" and the blissed-out "Break in Case of Anything" (which sounds like the rhythms of "Heart of Glass" and "Pop Muzik" snuck into a whirring monsoon of acid rock) are a lot more intricate than your typical dance-floor offering, and when they do lay into that supposedly simple 4/4 groove—i.e., "Bend Over Beethoven" or "Heart of Hearts"—it's with a taut precision and a single-minded force big enough to knock you over. Better have sure footing for this one.