Review Summary: A poison pill indeed.
A little added perspective can go a long way. Sometimes all it takes is a single curveball in your usual routine to shake things up--to help you see and understand what may have previously been taken for granted. Whether it’s a bizarre yet fascinating film, a painting with peculiar colors, or an album from an unfamiliar genre, these curveballs can often be enjoyed in their own right while opening our eyes to the horizons we never knew existed. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, and in this case, 3OH!3 are the shameless culprits. Rather than offer a slice of fun or innovation, 3OH!3’s sole role, judging by their debut, appears to be plummeting the bar so far down that even a chunk of spoiled cheese will somehow become appetizing.
Hailing from Colorado (they LOVE referencing their area code), 3OH!3 hit the scene with an album that not only smears the fabric of music with gobs of pink ink, it takes that same fabric, tosses it into a rusted blender and adds some Tag body spray for good measure. The duo, comprised of Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte, are technically labeled as a mix of pop, electronic, hip-hop and “crunkcore.” Dissecting the music reveals a straightforward, sample-prone undercurrent with the occasional bell and whistle, such as the ear-crunching cover of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” that is “Dance with Me,” some perplexing guitar notes (opener “Holler Til You Pass Out”) and the occasional Lil Jon emulation. What makes this aspect of 3OH!3
particularly impressive is how it manages to induce severe sensory overload, despite its apparent simplicity. “Chokechain” opens and falls back on a rhythm with booms that sound like farts recorded and spat back through speakers with the bass cranked up. It’d almost be comical if it were done with some semblance of tact. Instead, 3OH!3 lay a musical foundation that sounds like it was composed by middle school jocks who view college parties the same way Eric Cartman views Mel Gibson.
Poor though the instrumental qualities may be, it’s the lyrics and vocal work that thrust the crooked sword into the listener’s mind. While it’d be easy to suggest that 3OH!3
’s basic music approach is due to a lack of talent, it may have more to do with a desire to put the rapping up front, and boy does it leave a mark. “Chokechain” is once again up for autopsy, with Foreman and Motte teaming up to deliver that Lil Jon worship while repeatedly telling us that they “got this *** on lock” and to “get yo’ drum on (c’mon and getcha drum on),” which actually sounds like “geetchya drunk on.” Moments such as this evoke the awkward image of white boys grilling their teeth with every syllable, yet the even more embarrassing “Neatfreak 47” features laughably sensualized voice work, all while informing us:
He was so clean
Yeah, he was so clean.
Bathed himself in bleach until he was completely soaking.
His hands were sore
Oh yeah, they were so sore.
He scrubbed so hard he wiped the tiles off the floor.
His mop was fancy
Oh yeah, it was so fancy.
You should have seen the way he cleaned it all when he was dancing.
N-E-A-T-F-R-E-A-K 47 Baby
N-E-A-T-F-R-E-A-K 47 Baby
Perfectly clean, he was a well oiled machine.
There was a never a wrench thrown into the gears.
This is what exemplifies 3OH!3
down to a tee; absurd lyrics, curdling vocal work, abysmal--and generally painful--sampling, all wrapped together in a smorgasbord of time-stilling noise.
And yet, there is something to be thankful for in 3OH!3. Their debut is a grueling exercise in tolerance and perseverance, which is precisely why it has a place in the nearly endless expanse of music. By testing the boundaries of its listeners, 3OH!3
make so many bad albums sound clean and pure, by comparison. Sometimes all you need is a reminder that the standard could be far worse than it currently is, and the fact 3OH!3 exist without being the status quo is strangely reassuring. Objectively there’s no justification for such vile music, but because we often view things from a relative standpoint, 3OH!3
makes countless works that much easier to enjoy, all because of its utter lack of quality.