Drowned in Sound: !!! - Myth Takes

Drowned in Sound
!!! - Myth Takes
by Kodi McKinney, DJ at U92
kodimckinney@gmail.com

Let's face it: most dance music out there is shallow and only really worthwhile for dancing. Fortunately, there's one very good American band with equal parts groove and depth that is finally earning recognition. Unfortunately, their name is just as memorable as it is baffling.
They call themselves "!!!," and lest you attempt to read that as "exclamation point" three times fast, it's pronounced "chk chk chk." As if to further laugh at the expense of those with difficulty speaking, their newest dance-rock document is titled Myth Takes, like "mistakes" said with a lisp. But once a newcomer can get past that and chuckle at themselves, the band is prepared to shock and amaze.
To the surprise of the uninitiated, !!! are neither content to play mere noise-rock or stick to dance music. Myth Takes is amazingly cohesive, yet diverse thanks to truly great songwriting. For example, "Must Be the Moon" is the single most addictive song to come out so far this year, but explaining why is not an easy task. It dominates thanks to a killer beat, funk-style proto-rap in the verses, a disco-on-steroids chorus, and instantly unforgettable lyrics. Did I mention the extended dance break at the end?
If this sounds like an awful lot to squeeze into a song, !!! seem aware of that and rarely cease changing it up across the other tracks. There's a lot going on, yet each instrument is so inherently sparse that it all ties together with precision. And there's quite a lot of instruments. The band has eight members, all of which are somehow kept busy with everything from the typical drums and guitar to horns and electronics. Picking out every single object played on Myth Takes is almost impossible. Don't expect to hear this stuff in the repertoire of any cover bands.
On their Web site, !!! explain they learned to tighten up their hooks after playing with Red Hot Chili Peppers in England last year. It definitely shows on "Yadnus," which is like the Who covering Talking Heads, yet still obviously an original. Subwoofer bait only shows up for "Sweet Life," which remains unique thanks to the suave guitar backing and versatile vocalist Nic Offer approaching it like a ska singer. Funk reigns in power throughout Myth Takes, especially during the two Parliament-inspired jams between "Yadnus" and the closer.
That closer is the icing on the cake. "Infinifold" is a total departure, a slow piano ballad with guitars soaked in delay soaring across the horizon. !!! demand to be taken seriously as artists instead of tossed off as a dance band, but be prepared to dance. Myth Takes compels you to get down, and if you should refuse, it will force your body into motion. Even when it gets a bit long-winded as on weak link "A New Name" or the longer trance freak-outs, it's hard to ask much more of a band as unique as this.
Rating: 4 out of 5