text: Laura Phillips
Liars are to popular music as Bret Easton Ellis is to celebrity culture. If you haven’t read an Ellis novel, try to imagine a metaphorical finger poking repeatedly into the music industry’s mainstream with sassy bouts of satire; a knowing smirk and a bratty rebel attitude. Let me explain:
In the early 2000’s when synth-fueled New York bands like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture were on the rise, Liars went on to provide the antithesis to such peers after their first record, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top. Quality fun but the opposite of hype, they tipped into experimental grounds that could’ve been nothing more than an art-school kid cliché (quelle surprise, these guys were art schooled), however, time and talent has worked in their favor.
Liars’ elusive play with sound has made them hard to label, and the method in which they conceptualize each aspect of their vision is, maybe, a just way to keep their own sanity intact.
Intricacies fill each album via creepy subtext and cryptic memos that require one to dig a little deeper to fully get what’s going on. In their new record, WIXIW (pronounced like “Wish You”), the band decided to retreat back into the electro-wave they once avoided.
WIXIW shows the buildup of prowess. Not only do they provide a soundscape more accessible than prior albums, Angus Andrew’s falsetto is fine enough to make Thom Yorke proud. The band’s drone-y, off-kilter aesthetic comes together with an elaborate assemblage of baselines, vocal samples, synth and drum machine moves. Highlights include “Who is the Hunter” with its sinister instrumentals and “Brats” in its dance-rave forward motion.
When the band played at Lee’s Palace on Saturday, they rocked the new album with a modest homage to older works. A full house of heads nodded appreciatively throughout, turning full-body when “Brats” and “Scarecrows on a Killer Slan” played back-to-back. The show ended with “Plaster Casts of Everything” to as if to send us off with one final tease.
Call me fanmail, but Liars continue to show themselves as artists of skill and expansion. They’re keen on painting a picture– a very particular picture– and lining it with a sky full of little details. Easily one of the best albums of 2012, WIXIW, alongside the band’s recent live performance has seriously reawakened some Liars love in me, and likely all those in attendance on Saturday. * Sticks a monument on top. *