Louden Up Now
Touch & Go / Warp
ic Offer is a dick, this much is obvious from one spin of !!!’s second album. While the rest of the band are content (!?) to lay down the most outstanding psychotropic discopunk rhythm play imaginable, Offer feels compelled to smear shit all over the top of it. !!!’s first record was seemingly all about dancing, drugs, and losing friends to dancing and drugs, but Louden Up Now wears a more political heart on it’s sleeve, and thanks to mister Offer’s deportment it does it in the most puerile and profane manner possible. Just listen to the litany of scatological bile he spits at Bush & Blair in “Shit Scheisse Merde (Parts 1 & 2)”; admirable, if obvious sentiment made into a junior school playground lesson in what swear words you learnt from your elder brother after his French exchange trip.
This is far from his worst offence, though. “Pardon My Freedom” possibly has more instances of the word fuck (in the context of ‘not giving one’) than Super Furry Animals’ “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck”, as Offer chants a foul-mouthed chant about, well, something he doesn’t give a fuck about. Or a shit. Maybe censorship. Whatever it is that’s riled him, his ugly, near unnecessary swearing renders any salient point he might have been making completely irrelevant. He’s like Johnny Rotten on the Bill Grundy Show, asked to say something rude, to swear, on live television, and smirking like a mischievous infant as he counters with the rudest, naughtiest word he can muster; “fuck”. It’s not an act of rebellion or free speech. It’s not an act of punk (if we take punk as an anti-ideology ideology). It’s not an act of semiotic terrorism, removing the signified from the signifier and reducing words from ontologically loaded social faux-pas missiles into mere sounds. It’s not going to change the way anybody lives their life except to maybe make them swear a little more easily themselves. It wasn’t great in 1977 and it isn’t great in 2004.
But frankly who gives a fuck about Nic Offer anyway? Yeah it’s nice that !!! seem to be the only discopunk act who have something to say apart from how great it is to finally go dancing (unless you count LCD Soundsystem’s cooler-than-thou rants as ‘something to say’), but !!! aren’t Bob fucking Dylan, this isn’t fucking poetry, and praise be for that. Louden Up Now’s lyrics aren’t meant to sustain extended literary criticism; this isn’t a record about words. It’s a record about dancing. You should know the formula by now; one part house, one part post-punk, one part disco, two parts snotty hipster hate, all parts rhythm. And don’t go mistaking this for a funkrock record or a jam-band record either. The widdle-widdle repetition tendencies of large parts of !!! have been exorcised in favour of the more way-out and technologically friendly slant of “Intensify” and “There’s No Fucking Rules Dude”. Or to put it another way, the strafing psychedelic headphone-nation groove-rock of last year’s epochal “Me & Giuliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story)”, which is present here (and probably the strongest track, although not be too far), was a good indication of where they were headed sonically. That is piling as many ideas on top of one another as possible, winding everything back into the rhythm (melody only exists here inasmuch as it can add to the groove), mixing those juvenile vocals low enough that they don’t bother you when you obey the album’s titular command. Which is to say that it sounds kind of like Outhud with vocals and more guitars. No surprises there, then.
The hype machine that kicked into overload when “Giuliani…” hit dancefloors and record shops last year could well have seen Louden Up Now and !!! denounced as unworthy, but the truth is that they do that DFA-sound better than The DFA do it for other people; they’re better than The Rapture, and positively trounce the likes of Radio 4. Plus they’ve actually managed to release a proper, schizotech full-length before the discopunk zeitgeist loses momentum and descends into parody, unlike LCD Soundsystem, their only real rivals in quality, who are still seemingly content to be the biggest musical prickteasers in a long, long time. Nic Offer may be a dick, but his band are fucking great.
Reviewed by: Nick Southall
Reviewed on: 2004-01-06