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3OH!3 Want Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Million-selling duo’s album delivers brash and dumb songs bordering on the misogynistic.

Lou Thomas 2009

Some critics say crunkcore is possibly the worst genre of music ever created.

But while pundits ponder how dreadful it is compared to say, happy hardcore, 3OH!3, one of the scene’s leading lights, have got on with making their second album – their major label debut.

Want’s opener Tapp alerts listeners that the quality of what’s to follow may be low, with a minute of pointless synths parping along like a Phoenix Nights-approved cover of Calvin Harris’s Acceptable in the 80s.

But come second track Punkbitch the crunkcore tag begins to make sense: alongside the synths there are the boisterous, skittering beats and gruff-voiced grime of Southern US crunk, coupled with the attack and machismo vocals of a post-hardcore-cum-screamo band. It’s a bizarre mix that sounds like Lil Jon, the Bloodhound Gang and Andrew WK trying to get served at the world’s dirtiest dive bar.

Lead single Don’t Trust Me initially has shades of day-glo Brits Hadouken!, but is lyrically disturbing – some might go so far as to argue it’s misogynistic and offensive. “Don’t trust a ho’… ‘cause the ho’ won’t trust me,” and “Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips,” are laughably bad lines, but are they said in jest? 3OH!3 (aka Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte) met at university, so are presumably only playing dumb. Let’s hope their fans are, too: Don’t Trust Me has sold two million copies in the US.

Katy Perry sings on a new version of single Starstrukk (their spelling) and the results are enlightening. With a winning vocal performance and a track largely bereft of nonsensical shouting and vocoder tweaking, 3OH!3 are greatly improved. Obligatory ballad Still Around reinforces this with clever Timbaland beats and a charming Elton John-like piano motif.

The Boulder, Colorado pair prove with Want that they can write both brash, dumb songs and melodic, simpering ditties. I’m Not Your Boyfriend Baby, for example, includes the emetic line, “I’m not your knight in shining armour so I’ll leave you with this kiss”. Cringe-worthy, but not as questionable as their lyrical content elsewhere.

Foreman and Motte seem to be conflicted between macho posturing and a need to express emotions, albeit in a resolutely banal fashion. But given the commercial success of the former approach, it’s likely their next batch of songs will be more gung-ho than not.

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