Electronic dance-punk veterans !!! (most commonly pronounced “Chk Chk Chk”) sound more raucous than ever on their latest release Thri!!!er. The group, which has been together since the mid-90’s, has been making this music before is became as popular as it is today. Like originators often do, they sound more raw, lively and hardcore than any of their followers. On Thri!!!er, the dance vibe is matched by a rock appeal, like James Brown has been combined with the type of energy found in a Rage Against the Machine track.
!!! calling their album Thriller can be viewed as controversial or even egotistical insomuch as the group may be claiming to match the impact of Michal Jackson’s 1982 iconic album Thriller. On the topic of the album title, the band’s guitarist, Mario Andreoni, is quoted as saying “over the course of many long van rides, we concluded that Thriller is synonymous with any artists and/or genre’s a high-water mark.” [i] On the same topic lead singer Nic Offer states “it was just a fun game we were playing at the studio. Like, George Michael’s Faith is the white man’s Thriller. The heavy metal Thriller is either Back in Black or Appetite for Destruction.”[ii] Whether goofing on the road or in the studio about the title, the listener is left to answer the question: is this the electronic dance-punk Thiller?
Part of the issue in determining an answer to that is burning question that !!! tends to defy any single genre. On “Even When the Water’s Cold,” Offer and crew sound like the funkiest possible version of Phish, offering expert instrumentation throughout a smooth and funky groove. On “Californiyeah” the band chants to a funky but repetitive, pounding beat. Then on “Slyd,” there is much more of a house music vibe, with a sample of an air-heady chick repeating “I don’t really like you but I like you on the inside.” “One Girl/One Boy” is a highlight with jangling rhythm guitars and falsetto vocals backed by a heaviness rarely achieved in this type of music.
The most interesting thing about !!! is that as futuristic as Thri!!!er sounds, the band has been making music along these lines for over ten years. This is now their fifth release and quite possibly the most dance-able collection yet. Since his band’s inception, Offer has viewed his brand of musical expression like an outsider looking up, stating “I would not say the world has caught up to me and that I’ve been proved right. That will happen later.”[iii] While it is totally certain that !!! offers the us the raw excitement and dance-ability with Thri!!!er, the story is yet to be told about the impact of this album, and their impact on the future of music as a whole; that will happen later.