Zzz Zzz Zzz: !!! offers more of the same punk, funk, and disco on its latest.

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Through no action of its own, !!! almost made my favorite record of 2010. On my way to reviewing the latest from the veteran punkadelic outfit, I listened to nearly 10 minutes of Terry Riley’s Last Camel in Paris. It was entirely accidental—the Riley disc was in my office CD player, and I didn’t bother to look before I stuck !!!’s more grooving set on top of it. So, for a few moments I managed to convince myself that the band’s latest, Strange Weather, Isn’t It?, was a revelation. Maybe, I thought, the departure of long-time key figure Tyler Pope had released the band’s inner minimalism. Maybe its recording trip to Berlin had brought out some Teutonic austerity. I checked the press release. “[A] dark undercurrent running through the record that acts as a counterpoint to the glittering surfaces?” Sure. Structured oscillations—that’s what they do, right? But given that it was all so far from anything !!! had ever attempted—but was close enough in terms of common ancestry, especially when accounting for defunct sister band Out Hud’s pure, slight dance-pop—I briefly believed I had found my No. 1 release of the year. Then I remembered that the disc had barely fit into the stereo deck, and my fantasy came crashing down. I pressed play on the real Strange Weather and was greeted with a familiar set of Parliament-style polyrhythms underneath Nick Offer’s recognizable, radio-soul-informed vocals. It’s not like the stuff is bad—or even boring. And with album closer “The Hammer,” !!! gives its listeners a nice, fully formed club number. Still, what’s here is so expected and so well explored by this band and other dance-rock outfits that the Riley swap was about the only way for !!! to leave an impression. The guitar sliding into a tight groove on “The Most Certain Sure?” Very nice, thanks. The low-register, Stingray Davis vocal twist that leads to an easy sing-along chorus on “Wannagain Wannagain?” Solid. The bouncing, possibly sampled vocal hook on “Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass” is sure to induce shouts during the band’s noted live performances. And the steady build that carries “Even Judas Gave Jesus a Kiss” (see Offer’s “Don’t think you’re forgiven/and don’t think that we’re friends”) should also remind !!!’s fans what its standard best sounds like. Which is too bad, because after 14 years of the same punk, funk, and disco, that doesn’t really cut it anymore.