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Along with The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, and Radio 4, !!! were one of New York City’s best gifts to dance floors during the 2000’s. After the revivalism of Joy Division’s moodier branch of the post-punk family tree at the turn of the century, the stage was set for its funkier, sexier cousin–the bough which forked out from the likes of Talking Heads and P.I.L. Some folks proclaimed !!!’s 2001 self-titled debut and its follow-up, 2004’s Louden Up Now, “dance-punk.” Others thought “post-punk” sufficed. Most didn’t really know quite how to slap an appellation on the band’s groove-heavy freak-outs but in the end, it didn’t matter: to hear !!! was to immediately understand what they were all about (and probably to love it, too).
Nic Offer and his crew were always more interested in edginess than their contemporaries, a trait that may have unfairly kept them in the shadows more than their peers, but they were likewise also more preoccupied with the primal energy of dance music in its myriad shades. “AM/FM,” the lead track from their fourth LP, Strange Weather, Isn’t It? (to be released August 24th courtesy of Warp), lays this idea out for everyone to hear. Within one song we hear a delayed synth riff and percussion layers plucked from the height of The Happy Mondays’ reign over the Madchester scene, an elastic bass line borrowed–in spirit–from the death disco of predecessors such as Delta 5 and Gang of Four, and cooed female vocal harmonies which evoke Giorgio Moroder and the Italo kids.
Where the bouillabaisse of inspiration is concerned, these influences make for a hearty stock. While “AM/FM” never gets as crazy as previous tracks such as “Hello? Is This Thing On?” or “Intensify,” it does deliver the same party-ready sensibilities and, just maybe, a slightly more mature approach to the songwriting craft than their first three albums.