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Certified Heavy Kats David Burke , September 8th, 2020 07:50

Early 00s dance-punk survivors may not be breaking any moulds, but if you like fun, thrills and shopping, you might just like this, finds David Burke

!!! (Chk Chk Chk) were darlings of the late-00’s dance-punk boom, a confusing time before austerity but after 9/11, evinced in a sort of optimistic nihilism. But remarkably, thirteen years after the relative success of ‘All My Heroes are Weirdos’, they’re still here. The formula hasn’t changed too much either. Sampled drums sit untidily with funky, recorded bass and soft, lilting vocal harmonies, like a tossed pomegranate salad, and the result is a likable, earnest EP. Think of it as an artsy flat – messy, but if you try and clean up they’ll glare at you for Good Vibe Violations.

After the pop-garage of opener ‘Do the Dial Tone’ we’re onto ‘Maybe You Can’t Make It’, a chirpy breakup song caught cribbing openly from 10cc’s entire back catalogue, but I’m willing to let it off for some excellent textures. ‘Tighten the Grip’ is the first half’s highlight, a tune in the !!! mould of hip-grooving bass and a mix heavy on headroom, leaving plenty of space for earworms to flit through the stage wings.

What’s particularly pleasant to hear is Nic Offer and company’s dogged faith in post-disco, even after a decade which saw the genre increasingly recuperated into adverts for Caffe Nero. ‘Let it Fall’ comes preloaded with gentle brass stabs, like a straightforward Snarky Puppy, and even willful Scrooges will find it hard to smile at the insistent naiveté of !!!’s approach to lyrics. It’s good, clean fun in the way that the Tom Tom Club were a scrubbed-up, fresh-faced counterpose to Talking Heads’ unimpeded neuroticism – although we do have to dock a point for naming the days of the week on ‘Take It Easy’, an acceptable cut that may have been better left on the MGMT album that they found it on.

Overall this is another decent addition to the group’s repertoire and it’s easy to imagine these tracks going for broke on the festival circuit, with all the (literal) bells and whistles. In terms of actual innovation they’ve barely touched the dial, but if you’re doing any of the following this is a strong release: dancing, shopping, working, commuting, hunting for dopamine, trying to smile for a graduation photo, or modeling for Boohoo’s next season.