My first experience with the New York combo Liars is an interesting one. I went on a date with a girl to go see the band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The opening acts were two New York bands, one band that was already getting a fair amount of press called The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the other was Liars. They blew my mind! They played brilliant layered noise that was chaotic and danceable. I was overjoyed to learn about this new band. My date thought that they were absolutely wretched. By the end of the night, I had a new favorite band, and she started making out with some guy that resembled Kim Thayil of Soundgarden. I think I won.
The years have been very kind to Liars, gradually improving upon their sound, while also building a fan base. I was always going to be excited about a new release by these guys, but nothing prepared me for Sisterworld.
I’m going to jump the gun (and maybe sacrifice some cred as a writer) and begin this article by calling Sisterworld Liars’ own The Soft Bulletin. With that comparison, I mean that it’s time to disregard everything you know about this band. They have gone back to the drawing board and have re-invented themselves completely.
The record opens up with the track “Scissor,” which is also the first single. I don’t know which planet calls this a pop single, but it’s not earth. In a short 3 1/2 minutes we are taken on a journey that begins with vocalist Angus Andrew singing with a deep, resonant voice, on top of wordless harmonies. The song continues as a funeral-esque dirge, until it breaks into a fierce cacophony of rock n roll blitzkrieg. At times I am reminded of the layered soul/prog/punk of TV On The Radio, but only as they are from the same influences, not a sound alike project. This maybe the strongest opening number that I have heard in years.
The next two tracks are fun and danceable, as much as art-rock can be danceable. They are strong songs, and would have been standout tracks on any other record, but this isn’t any other record. Track 4 comes along, and we have “Drip,” an dissonant, almost industrial track. Andrew’s vocal range is tested, and succeeds in a way that only Mike Patton or Prince could, moving from deep baritone notes to high pitched falsetto notes in a single leap, but never sounding hard on the ears.
The next track, “Scarecrows On A Killer Slant,” is pure punk rock. It’s a pounding repetitive beat and a great sing along chorus that will make for a great moment in any bands live repertoire. The next portion of the record takes a decidedly slower pace, but never really calms down. Aside from a brief garage rock breakdown in the middle of “I Can Still See An Outside World,” this portion of the disc is darker and sparser than the rest of the record, fleshing out the sound that was only hinted at in the beginning of the album. This all takes us to another pit-friendly rave up, “The Overachievers.”
The record seals itself up quite nicely with two somewhat brighter songs, “Goodnight Everything” and “Too Much, Too Much,” two songs that are comforting after the dark barrage of sound that came before it. In whole, Sisterworld may very well be not only a contender for album of the year, but also has a shot at being an early front runner for album of the decade.
Or, to quote a friend of mine that I was discussing this record with last night, these were his thoughts:
Yeah, I fall for girls too easily. There’s only a handful of girls that I’ve fallen really hard for, but it happens so darn quickly. So, I’m going to download the new Liars album.
Songs To Download: Drip, Scarecrows On A Killer Slant (or, seriously, just get the whole album)
Song to Skip When Shuffling (A bad idea with this record, to listen to it on shuffle, that is): Proud Evolution
In addition to blanketing SXSW, Liars will also be appearing at Slim’s on Tuesday, April 27th. And, if enough people get wind of this record, my hunch is that you shouldn’t beat around the bush when buying tickets to this show.