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Liars are a band who seem to make a point of confounding people's expectations of them, starting out as scratchy post-punk types and then setting themselves adrift in all manner of conceptual and textural explorations. Their new album 'Mess' dropped on my review pile this week with Phil apologetically saying that nobody else in the office likes it so I have to write about it. A quick glance at the item page shows me that two customers have beaten me to this review, one of them loved it and one was disappointed.
After wowing everyone with the textural subtleties of 2012's 'WIXIW', their response is of course to head in the opposite direction. 'Mess' is a bold, pulsating slice of neon electronic pop, full of crisp, crunchy programmed drums and hard-edged slabs of synth, romping through the first half of the album with gleeful abandon in a succession of technoid
pop stomps - 'Pro Anti Anti' even has shades of Rammstein in its relentlessly marching thump. It seems to be an approach which is dividing opinions.
For those who are struggling to stomach the gleaming robot monster Liars have become in this latest incarnation, things do calm down when we hit track 7. 'Darkslide' is a patchwork of twitchy, drip'n'click percussion and rattling, throbbing synth textures which builds into a glitching, fluttering soup of computerised percussion; a shiny, sticky cosmic mess. Then 'Boyzone' (!) is a queasy digital dreadscape with shivering synths and the vocals woozy and slurred. My personal highlight is closer 'Left Speaker Blown', a despondent, spaced out bit of dronepop. "We're good with time, not with friends/I hope you'll never learn to play music", Angus croons over a simple synth loop and a crackling defeated-sounding guitar before some deep space synth drones and a speak'n'spell play us out.
Another surprising and confusing album from Liars, so business as usual I suppose.
4/10 Uxia Customer review, 24th March 2014
This is sad, LIARS' last album, WIXIW was one of my favorites. They had this Joy Division and some Animal Collective dark sound that made listen to the LP over and over again, I even went to see them kill the stage at Primavera Sound. I was expecting a lot from this band, and what I got was a big disappointment. First half of "Mess" is useless and painful, and the second half, more experimental and electronic oriented, is not good enough to make me forget how much I suffered listening to tracks like "Mess On A Mission" or "Pro Anti Pro". Please LIARS, don't do this to me again.
8/10 Stephen Christopher Barker Customer review, 21st March 2014
Wow. The last time we heard anything from Liars they had refined their chaotic rumbling sounds down to a minimalistic electronic record that was drenched in more atmosphere than reverb. That was two years ago, with "Mess", the band are more than making up for their lack of chaos. Each track sounds like a robotically engineered Godzilla having sex with a steroid induced King Kong with Death Grips on the side having a circle jerk over it. Meanwhile, the trio are riding on a Transfromer - that one that transforms into a 40 foot metal dinosaur - and they are are steering it with a saddle, giving it orders to mash up and eat Godzilla. It is all happening in New York, and King Kong is still trying to save his love on top of the Empire State building, only it isn't the beautiful Fay Wray atop the building, it's Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he has Machine Guns for arms. Sylvester Stallone is obviously jealous of King Kong as he also loves Schwarzenegger so he begins to ascend the wild beast from the ground upwards and save his love. Lazers reign down from the heavens and the planes trying to shoot down Kong are getting butchered by the vibrant red lines of death. Stallone is quickly nearing the top of Kong because he played mutha-effing Rocky! The band successfully shoots down Godzilla. Godzilla crashes into the Empire State building, knocking Schwarzenegger, which leads him to accidentally shoot Stallone's arms clean off. The next morning Stallone awakes in a hospital bed attached to an IV drip, he has no arms but they have been replaced... WITH GUNS. Rinse and repeat. Just like every song on this mind blowingly throbbing album.
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