Tier 3

music / / poetry / / philosophy / / -ology by Nick Courtright

Album Review: Liars’ Liars

This time, Liars didn’t catch us off-guard. Whereas 2006’s Drum’s Not Dead came prepackaged with low to no expectations—a result of 2004’s nearly unlistenable and critically panned They Were Wrong, So We Drowned—yet managed to stun and satisfy with its deliberate grittiness and an art-house-from-hell approach to the concept album, this new release of theirs, Liars, is blessed with no such reprieve. Liars is an honest attempt to recreate the razor-like precision of Drum’s Not Dead while incorporating new features, condensed production time, and an expanded sonic palette; unfortunately, while Liars is a solid and mostly enjoyable effort, it suffers from a case of the bar being set too high.Fans should expect a little comedown from a band practically renowned for its inconsistency. Liars’ monochromatic style—built on repetition, minor chords, and a vocal style reminiscent of chanting by the tonally-impaired—is tailor-made for overexposure, as this music for dungeons impresses through its suffocating weight rather than its variety. And that suffocating weight can be quite pleasant, such as on new tracks “Houseclouds,” “What Would They Know,” first single “Plaster Casts of Everything,” and even the surprisingly ballad-like “Protection.” These songs, as well as several others on Liars, are all excellent additions to the band’s catalog, even if they are somewhat lost as the centerpieces of an otherwise center-less album.

Emblematic of Liars’ problem is its unconscionably uninspired title, which removes any sense of context or togetherness from the album’s songs; this apparent misstep is ironic because lead singer Angus Andrew declared the lack of a thematically-based title his favorite part of the album. And though it may tire to discuss a record in the context of its predecessor, comparison is apt when a band goes from an ambitiously titled collection of like-minded songs aiming for a sense of album-length uniformity of vision, to a less refined eponymous work that seems more like a smattering of unfinished tracks culled from various EPs and B-sides.

Despite all of this, it certainly helps to remember that the disappointment brought on by Liars is a product of high expectations. Who knows—maybe this collection of rainy-day songs for the dispossessed and quite-possibly-insane would seem startlingly brilliant and imaginative to the Liars uninitiated. And there’s a good chance it would seem brilliant, because Liars are undoubtedly one of the most unique bands around, and their willingness to experiment and avoid techniques that raised expectations in the first place is a testament to their general progression as song-writers.

As their career has dragged them (or as they have dragged their career) along a hairpin-riddled road of tech-kraut-funk-industrial-art-garage-punk-rock, every time they’ve done the one step forward/two steps back dance, they rebounded with a solid three steps forward. So although Liars may be less engaging and less groundbreaking than their last effort, the process it has put in motion, and the lessons the band will learn from the experience, bode well for whatever crazy contraption of an album they come up with next.


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