!!! Myth Takes

[Warp; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: clutter-funk, dance squawk
Others: Soulwax, Talking Heads, The Rapture, Klaxons

I'll thrust you straight into this since that's what Myth Takes does. The album, the song; both hit the ground running, right in the middle of an unvarying lock-groove. From there the first half of the album blurs together, the songs largely indistinguishable from each other. They all have that spidery guitar part, they all sound cluttered with too much noise. They're all skittery and overrun with tweaky guitar lines and poly-rhythms. What they've got here is the aural equivalent of flailing your arms madly.

But maybe I'm selling them short. !!!'s modus operandi has always been to incite their audience into movement, both rhythmic and, ostentatiously, political. Their punchiest moments came at the convergence of these ideals, where a loping, syncopated rhythm section backed Nic Offer's cocky taunts, making the band seem dangerous and sexy at the same time. Plenty of people took Offer to task for posturing, claiming that the band did nothing to back up its incisiveness. They're certainly not Rage, and while the riot-while-you-dance attitude was far more menacing on record than in results, it was probably the best outlet for Offer's gruff thuggishness. On Myth Takes he backs off from his dick-sucking presidential offers in favor of more traditional dancefloor concerns like hooking up and party-rocking. Given Offer's brutish delivery and limited range, the songs that work best find him transferring his self-assured swagger to sexual advances, rather than his attempts to chronicle awkward emotional fallout.

It's not till the second half that the band chills the fuck out and lets the songs breathe a little. "Yadnus" opens with those stadium rave-up drums we all have ingrained in our skulls, adds a wah-wah squawk, and somehow ends up being one of the most compelling songs on the album. For the first time, !!!'s relentless stomp, present on every track thus far, finally feels formidable. The band don't fire on all cylinders, giving each instrument time to find its place before getting sucked into the whole.

With repeated listens you begin to pick out all sorts of interesting bits buried within the music; with any luck, some remixers will be able to pull them out and isolate them, streamlining these grooves into 12"s that aren't so prickly. Seeing these guys live, it's not hard to feel compelled to dance, but as it stands, Myth Takes isn't ready to take over the club. Even "Inifold," the record's bleary-eyed comedown and most direct bid at touchy-feeliness is contaminated by swirly noises when it would've been much more potent with just the piano and string parts.

There was a time when I found !!!'s brash strut exhilarating, the perfect union of punk arrogance and disco suave. Maybe if I'd heard Myth Takes with virgin ears I could have appreciated it as a prime example of jittery anxiousness, but taken within the context of !!!'s (and, by default, OUT HUD's) legacy, it doesn't feel like a step in any particular direction so much as a million ideas left to duke it out. Just look at the cover, absolutely teeming with activity. Perhaps over time this album will establish a mythical world of its own, the soundtrack to a supernatural carnal rager. Fittingly, !!! is the only band name the whole animal kingdom can pronounce.

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