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!!! – Myth Takes (Warp)

!!! - Myth TakesEasy it was, with their unpronounceable name and whispers abounding of their writing nothing other than impenetrably sprawling hazy dance punk epics, to dismiss !!! as too far up their own backsides for you to bother following them.  Of course, anyone who actually listened to them would have found that the pretentiousness was nowhere near the level that the press surrounding the band would have had you believe, and that there was a lot of unadulterated fun to be had here.  But indeed, there was still something about previous !!! records that made you think that the band wanted to know how gosh darn clever they were for making such lengthy, rhythmically dense and often abrasive dance music – and they weren’t afraid to ram it down your throat a little.

This, then, is why ‘Myth Takes’ is so welcome, and so important – with it, they’ve made a record devoid of any conceit, and instead concentrated on delivering an excellent (though still carefully thought out and deftly executed) party album.  Titled after a person with a particularly debilitating lisp, or perhaps common cold, trying to pronounce the word ‘mistake’, the LP is a record nearly devoid of any of them.  It’s an album brimming with brilliance, the first true moment of which arriving with ‘All My Heroes Are Weirdos’, a nigglingly funky, deliriously catchy little number which is oddly one of the few moments where ‘Myth Takes’ succeeds without having an unfathomably huge bass line as the bass-is (sorry – it was them what started the puns, after all) for such a triumph, the jagged guitar lines here providing the song with its winning edge.

Elsewhere, it’s almost all about the bass, almost all of the time.  They’re the solid foundation on which nigh on everything !!! provide is built.  The title track has a particularly great one, but even that sounds placid in comparison to the low end groove on ‘Must Be The Moon’, a track so invigoratingly rhythmic that it doesn’t matter that Nic Offer’s lyrics, both somewhat chauvinistic and decidedly crap, do their best to take their attention away from what a cracking bass line this is.  Yes, alas still the thing holding them back from being an incredible band as opposed to a very, very good one is their way with prose…

However, the album’s masterful centrepiece and lead single ‘Heart of Hearts’ is !!! at their giddy finest, each instrument equally important to that overall groove and Nic Offer at his most lyrically intelligent (as discussed, when he’s in a more blatant mood, he’s pretty awful), it’s the combination of a collective, band wide desire to make the best dance record nobody’s ever heard (except, importantly, with live instruments).  Silly though they’ll look, ‘Heart of Hearts’ provokes a desire in me to say these words, and, after checking over my shoulder, here they are:

Shit!  Ugh! Good God!  Damn!

Yes, although making white people explode with ridiculous funk banter is still their strongest art, they seem to just do more these days.  They’ve developed in to a multi faceted, wide eyed, more open minded, better band.  ‘Sweet Life’ for example, before it explodes in the chorus, sounds even a little sad, certainly very considered, alarmingly morose… like you’ve never heard them before.  Despite maintaining that otherworldly fog that has always hovered above their every beat, they seem to be able to write proper songs now, as opposed to relying on jams that at their best could be revelatory, but at their worst came close to bordering on directionless.

Still, they love their bongos, but they’re only at the forefront on ‘Bend Over Beethoven’ (tee hee), the most spaced out, expansive (and yeah, somewhat tedious) thing on show here.  Oddly, it’s the place where they do what they’re most used to – jamming – and only right towards the end does the song finds its proper groove after wandering somewhat aimlessly for a few minutes in the middle.  They might even be better at songwriting now than they are at jamming.  And I bet that’s not something you thought you’d be able to say after listening to ‘Louden Up Now’…

That jam does indeed lead in to a proper song, the brilliant mish mash of ‘na na nas’ and brass hooting that is ‘Break In Case of Anything’ (good for titles still, this lot).  It even ends, outrageously, on something of a piano led, space age ballad in the shape of ‘Infiniform’, which sounds like Kanye West fronting Muse. 

More confident, more skilled at their craft, and probably just enjoying some particularly rich period of being on form, this is better than probably the band themselves even suspected it could be.  Make no myth take (see?), this is how to grow up without forgetting how much fun it is to be a kid.

Tom Hannan - Written on 3/23/2007 1:39:28 PM

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