Sunday, March 30, 2014

Album Review: Liars - Mess

Album Rating: A-
If anyone can tell what Liars are going to do next, you must be psychic or an extraordinary guesser. Throughout the experimental band's 14 years of existence, they have put out seven albums, with each one taking an extreme left turn from the last. A new Liars LP is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you might get. And while the classic rock themes of Forrest Gump are not found on any Liars album yet, the possibility is as equal as any other genre. Starting as a dance-punk band in 2000, Liars have released a new record consistently every two years. Transversing through witchcraft inspired rhythms (They Were Wrong, So We Drowned),  jarring garage rock (Liars), and organically produced electronics (WIXIW), Liars has evolved as a group at a steady rate that gives each new album a new and exciting feel, yet can still be called a "Liars album." On their seventh LP, Mess, Liars is expanding on the electronic feel of WIXIW, but have turned the intensity knob past its breaking point.

In 2012, Liars released WIXIW, which while being their first foray into electronic music, was surprisingly fresh. Tones were built from organic modulation of sounds. The band recorded noises, both natural and man-made, and tweaked and twisted them into synthetic instruments for the songs. The album was mesmerizing and hypnotic. Its follow-up LP, Mess further expands on their electronic ideas, but instead of treading lightly with hesitation, blows straight ahead with fury. Mess is a heavy electro LP, with pulsating rhythms, beats and synth lines. The opener, "Mask Maker," introduces the album with a haunting, fashion-show appropriate pulse, that leads flawlessly into "Vox Tuned D.E.D." WIXIW was made by a  band that had a few doubts about what they were doing, but Mess shows a group that has full confidence in themselves.

Mess is anything but a mess, as its tracks are focused and compacted with ideas. "I'm No Gold" begins innocently enough with light synthetics, but opens up with a dominating drum beat that rules the song. The following "Pro Anti Anti" is a fuzz-fest of tones that pulses over heavy drums. Its enthralling and draws the listener in further to the depths of Liars' ideas. Headphones are highly recommend for listening, since the LP has significant experimentation with sound localization, and each track contains copious amounts of detail that is best heard up close.

"Can't Hear Well" and "Left Speaker Blown" are the two only "slower" songs on the album, that serve as breaks from the pounding of the others. The accordion-esque tones of "Can't Hear Well" sound fantastic through headphones, as the sounds tickle both ears while vocalist Angus Andrew's words melt through the music. While the second half of the album is not as strong as the first, it still contains some noteworthy moments. The forceful single, "Mess On A Mission," is a highlight, as is the bouncing of "Dress Walker," with its playful melody nears its succession. "Darkslide" and "Boyzone" sound like lost tracks from Radiohead's Amnesiac days, and showcase Liars deeper and darker experimentations.

In the past Andrew's vocals have been much more cutting than on Mess, but this small flaw is easily forgettable when compared to the strength of the music that backs him up.

Liars has created yet another strong album, that will completely satisfy longtime fans, and may even pull new ones into the mix. Mess is house music, experimental electronica, and indie rock all rolled into one, and while it could have been a complete mess, it ironically is the opposite.


Track list:

1. Mask Maker
2. Vox Tuned D.E.D.
3. I'm No Gold
4. Pro Anti Anti
5. Can't Hear Well
6. Mess On A Mission
7. Darkslide
8. Boyzone
9. Dress Walker
10. Perpetual Village
11. Left Speaker Blown

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