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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Liars
Liars
Mute

Rating: 9.2/10 ?


August 24, 2007
Note to self: Prior to pressing play on new Liars album, turn volume knob down 10 ticks. Much to my neighbors' chagrin, I have always followed the ageless advice printed on the inside of The Rolling Stones' Let it Bleed: "This Record Should Be Played Loud." Grand music should be felt, and I'm a fervent fan of testing the tweeters and woofers of my 20+ year old speakers. And though "Plaster Casts of Everything," the opening cut on Liars' eponymous fourth release, is a mighty stimulus, too much volume on this torrent of howling "I wanna run away" may cause an exodus of neighborhood pets.

Damn the torpedoes, this is Liars we're talking about, full steam ahead. Only this band could open with a raucous goth-psychedelia pile-driver, and then smoothly shift gears into "Houseclouds," a blithe dance number that loots the classic synth riff off Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue." Listening to towering singer Angus Andrew go from wailing to falsetto in a matter of minutes is a thing to behold, and there are few working bands that can successfully pull this off. But then Liars are not your average working band; the contrarians have spent the better part of their short and stellar career deconstructing the preconceived notions of fans and critics alike. In doing so, they have established themselves as the fashionable group to either revere or deride. Every musical era needs an artist to create this critical divide, and Liars continue to happily oblige, as each subsequent release seems to further widen the chasm. (I can't think of another artist that, within two years/releases, got tagged with a "0" from Spin and rated the second best album of 2006 from this very magazine).

Now onto their chaotic trajectory falls the album that may finally unite both sides of the aisle, a record that just might have something for everyone. It plays like a fluid conduit, channeling the peaks of its predecessors into a wholly formed outcome. The beautiful primitive dissonance of "Pure Unevil," and the Gregorian chanting of "Leather Prowler" would be equally at home on Drums Not Dead. In addition to "Houseclouds," the funk-punk of They Threw Us in a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top shows up to party a few more times, like on the stoner friendly "Freak Out," with its awesomely hazy guitars and easy-to-get lyrics "there's nothing to freak out about." The harsh lines from They Were Wrong, So We Drowned can be heard on "Clear Island" and "The Dumb In the Rain." "Sailing to Byzantium" employs compact rhythms, soft electric piano, and restrained vocals to create an environment that sails in from another world; it washes over the listener like Radiohead's Kid A. But it's not all soul-searching serious either, "Cycle Time" finds Andrew doing his best Ozzy, while the band grooves to the equivalent of Sabbath covering Golden Earring's "Radar Love," got that?

If the previous paragraph seems scattershot, then the source code of Liars has been revealed. It can be lighthearted, meditative, strange, familiar, soft, loud. Indeed, what makes this the trio's most fully realized album is its unbounded freedom and diversity, spread out over eleven tightly wound tracks. There are no thirty minute electro drones, no conceptual art jams; the unrushed album unexpectedly clocks in at under forty minutes. The band - Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross - professed that this time around they decided not to overanalyze the process of making their music. Liars was recorded between Berlin and LA and produced in half the time of the band's previously high-minded efforts. As Andrew states: "We felt like we'd earned the right not to explain everything all the time or give the songs an overarching theme. I'd never felt like a songwriter 'til this album."

Sure, Liars may be a tad more straightforward than the band's previous tryptych, but don't expect a sonic interstate, there are still enough blind curves to keep the listener on their toes at all times. Lest we forget, this is a band with "experimental" in their genes; it is only the landscape that changes. The brilliancy of Liars is that it encompasses more than the sum of its ancestors - its like listening to evolution itself. It makes perfect sense that the band has foregone their penchant for cryptic album titles, and simply self-titled their fourth release: Liars is an ingenuous reflection of a band in total control of their wild creativity.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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