The art-pop maestros of !!! (pronounced chk-chk-chk) are a rowdy, snarky blast punctuated by rippling bass sweeps, woozy synth codas, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. But the outfit faces more competition than ever in the realm of rhythm-oriented indie rock. From Hot Chip to the Klaxons to Cut Copy, many of the liveliest bands these days have an unmistakably dancey pulse.
"It was a natural progression from blues-based rock 'n' roll to '70s and '80s black rhythms," says !!! vocalist Nic Offer, taking a break from rehearsals in his native Sacramento, California. "There are more possibilities there." As the band members gear up for a 16-date tour that will include an appearance at Ultra Music Fest on March 27, they seem eager to continue honing their sweaty, dizzyingly paced brand of dance-rock. Although well received, !!!'s summer disc, Strange Weather, Isn't It?, failed to garner the enthusiastic acclaim that greeted both the 2005 EP Let's Take Ecstasy/Get Up and the 2007 tour de force Myth Takes. The songs were fun but lacked the outfit's usual sprawling sense of atmosphere, sometimes feeling shallow or undercooked next to the greatest !!! tunes, such as hypnotic Myth Takes highlight "Bend Over Beethoven."
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"We want something a little more raw," Offer continues, noting that !!! has a new album due this fall. "We're always trying to make a record that matches our live show." But he shouldn't be hard on himself. These smirking bad boys never fail to induce dance-floor hysteria.