Myth Takes

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Of all the dance-punk revivalists, !!! has been the most consistently interesting and challenging, not to mention the group most likely to fill the dancefloor on indie rock night. While their previous album, the political and righteous Louden Up Now, was good enough to vault them to the level of the bands that inspired them (Gang of Four, the Pop Group, Liquid Liquid), Myth Takes firmly establishes them there. It's a different fire that burns here for !!!, mostly setting aside political concerns for fiery dancefloor rave-ups. The band sounds inspired, like they are plugged directly into a wall socket. The first three tracks are like opening a door and being blasted backward by a wall of flame and heat. Nic Offer's vocal chants, asides, and strung-together proclamations are more frantic than ever, and when he turns it down a notch, he sounds nearly sexy (as on "Must Be the Moon," a desperate story of sex and lust in the city). He has to be a live wire of energy to keep up with the band, which burns brightly and plays like they have something to prove from beginning to end. This is especially true of Justin van der Volgen, whose bass work underpins the freewheeling walls of chik-ing guitars with a fluid and funky bottom. His production is a masterwork, balancing and blending a kaleidoscope of guitars, drums, percussion, keys, and vocals. The record could have easily sounded like a mess, but he makes it sound alive and raw. When !!! finally slows things down after that initial burst, they do some interesting things -- "Heart of Hearts" is a dancefloor filler that manages to sound menacing and rubbery at the same time, "Break in Case of Anything" is a kitchen-sink funk epic that has elements of disco, dub, hip-hop, and a killer horn section, and "Yadnus" is a fun mash-up of glitter drumbeats, tough-guy vocals, chicken-scratch guitars, and sweeping synths. The only tracks that let the side down a bit are the slightly generic "Bend Over Beethoven," which sounds like something they could have come up with in their sleep, and the ballad that ends the album, "Infiniford." On that last song, Offer's vocals don't suit the somber mood very well, and it's a down note to end such a wild ride of an album. These stumbles aside, Myth Takes is a thrilling success. Not too many bands even in heyday of the initial wave of dance-punk released records as full of energy, intelligence, and ferocious funk as this.

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