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Monday, March 1, 2010


LIARS (2007)
320 KBPS

Liars are one restless rock band. After the noisy, fractured dance punk of their debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, leader Angus Andrew replaced the rhythm section and came back with the even noisier and in no way danceable They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. As if that didn't alienate many of their fans, for album #3 they took another sharp left turn with the impressionistic Krautrock of Drum's Not Dead. The only clear direction they were on was more art, less rock. Now here we are at the self-titled album #4, and while their artsy impulses are anything but gone, they've reasserted the R-O-C-K for their most accessible work since the debut.
Keep in mind when I say "accessible," for this band that's a relative term. While this album, with its primitivist punk rhythms, bent psych rock guitars and digital screwing around, can possibly be enjoyed by more or less "normal" folks, this is still music that speaks, sings, chants, screams, stutters and mutters to the freak in all of us. In many ways, this is music for people who have no friends, and don't really want any. The monomanical pounding of "Plaster Casts of Everything" may inspire some fist-pumping and head-banging, but its falsetto vocals and general atmosphere of scuzz make it seem unlikely. "Houseclouds" brings in a bit of off kilter funk and keyboards that make it sound like a diseased Radiohead song. Meanwhile, "Leather Prowler" has a rhythm partly composed of what sounds like an (obscure reference alert!) exploding new building and "Freak Out" has already inspired many comparisons to Psychocandy-era Jesus & Mary Chain, with its bouncy melody and feedback-drenched guitars. Those with the fortitude to stick with the rest of the album are then rewarded with "Protection," which is (gasp!) an actual song, with a chorus and everything! Of course, the whole album is also swathed in all kinds of echo and murk--picture a rabid demon dog coming at you from out of a dense fog--so it's not exactly recommended for fans of what passes for most indie rock these days. Clocking in at a brisk 43 minutes, "Liars" may not be a long trip, but it's certainly strange.
If, however, you're one of those rare people who nest in noise and are soothed by pychosis, you need look no further. This album is the hard stuff, ladies, gents and those undetermined, and like the climax of Tod Browning's immortal Freaks, it may even be transformative.

1. Plaster Casts of Everything
2. Houseclouds
3. Leather Prowler
4. Sailing To Byzantium
5. What Would They Know
6. Cycle Time
7. Freak Out
8. Pure Unevil
9. Clear Island
10. The Dumb In the Rain
11. Protection

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