Liars - WIXIW

Their most mysterious and rewarding album yet
Liars - WIXIW
Liars’ new album sounds like an anxiety attack. That’s not much of a surprise. Ever since Angus Andrew chanted “Blood! Blood! Blood!” on 2004's witchy ‘They Were Wrong, So We Drowned’, Liars have been characterised as much by the sense of panic and dread that they conjure, as their frequent changes of musical direction. They’re a Mirror Universe Radiohead, complete with (evil) beards.

The oblique clips on the band’s Tumblr, and the appointment of Daniel Miller as producer, suggested that this would be an electronic album - their ‘Kid A’, if you will. And, indeed, there’s a lot more synth and a lot less guitar here than on 2010’s rocking ‘Sisterworld’. But while the instruments may have changed, it feels like a (proud) evolution of the band’s sound, rather than a reinvention. There are hints of Caribou in the psychedelic synths of ‘No. 1 Against The Rush’, and Primal Scream on the clubby ‘Brats’ (the album’s weakest link), but ‘Flood To Flood’ could sit happily on any of the band’s previous albums. You’d call it ‘Generic Liars Track’ if it wasn’t so casually brilliant.

No, the biggest change here is the lack of beats on several songs. The washed out drone of ‘The Exact Colour Of Doubt’ opens the album on an eerie, unsettled note, while ‘III Valley Prodigies’ is a rare acoustic outing, swathed in eerie background atmospherics. There’s the odd handclap on these tracks, and (the almost-a capella) ‘Who Is The Hunter’ ends with a gentle pulse, but for a band that once fetishised percussion enough to name an album ‘Drum’s Not Dead’, this is a radical departure, and one that gives ‘WIXIW’ a woozy, dreamlike ambience.

‘WIXIW’ (pronounced “wish you”) is summed up by its title track. With walls of squalling synth, it’s initially a tough listen, but give it time. Peel back the layers, and it reveals itself as a beautiful, evocative song on a set that’s initially guarded, but which reveals more secrets with every listen. Liars are one of the most consistently inventive bands on the planet right now. This is their most mysterious and rewarding album yet.

8/10

Words by WILL SALMON

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