The new Daft Punk single is exciting, isn’t it? I mean, I think it is. But maybe I’ve just been totally sold by the drip feed approach, so expertly primed for its arrival by its little-by-little marketing that to say it was anything other than great would be like admitting to myself that I’ve wasted a lot of time waiting for it to arrive. Making a listener feel like they’re obliged to enjoy something because of the effort they’ve already put in to the band is an exceedingly clever technique, but other, more traditional methods still pack a punch. ‘Get Lucky’ could sit comfortably on THR!!!LER, an album that contains many songs that are at least its equal, to much less fanfare and yet equal effect.
The last we heard from !!! was three years ago, and in the time that’s passed we’ve seen little mention of them on festival bills, blog headlines or anywhere else, really. But this comparatively out-of-the-blue return is just as thrilling as Daft Punk’s perpetual feed of no news, and if the robotic French duo turn in a record as enjoyable as this one, it’ll be a true delight. Being away from the spotlight has really suited !!!, allowing them to continue their mutation from a rock-influenced dance band in to a full-on funk behemoth, refining their abilities as songwriters at the same time as building their prowess when it comes to creating grooves that cut deeper than valleys. It won’t be as fawned over as Random Access Memories, an album we can make an educated guess that it’ll bear a fair amount of resemblance to. But don’t think for a minute that it’s subsequently any less worthy of your time.
The band has survived many changes in lineup and sound, and though the central tenet remains that you should at all times be able to dance to a !!! tune, THR!!!LER is the band’s most accomplished album of “proper” songs as opposed to grooves. Superbly seductive opener ‘Even When The Water’s Cold’ is a proper verse-bridge-chorus affair that’s amongst the best songs of the year, concise and addictive, yet imbued with a huge sense of joy in performance that stops it becoming at all formulaic. Even at the record’s most downbeat (the pensive ‘Get That Rhythm Right’, the mechanical funk of ‘Fine Fine Fine’) you’re still left shaking your ass, but – more so than with any other !!! album – also singing along as you dance.
An album with depth though it certainly is, its pleasures are greatest when they’re delivered with the utmost simplicity. The incredible Chic-like funk of ‘One Boy/One Girl’ positions itself amongst the band’s finest work, whilst latter album highlight ‘Californiyeah’ is as close as we’ve got to a kind of !!! manifesto (“I miss California ‘bout as much as I miss you, but why would I live somewhere where the bars close at two?”). The album’s more than decent lead single ‘Slyd’ is also its most uncharacteristic song: an admittedly fine slice of samples and loops though it is, THR!!!LER is a significantly more organic record, one where picturing the band having the time of their lives bashing it out in a practice space requires no effort at all.
The only people who’d be annoyed if the new Daft Punk album sounds exactly like THR!!!LER are !!! themselves. Though their return comes with only a fraction of DP’s fanfare, it’s something we should be equally grateful for. Throwing a party seems like the appropriate course of action.