[ALBUM: Review] Liars – WIXIW
I caught a Liars set last year in LA, at one of those urban-fashion-meets-street-art soirees. They delivered a set so fundamentally punk-rock that they left the designer-clad crowd shaking in their faux-biker ankle boots. The trio’s new album, WIXIW, retains that same ferocity I witnessed on stage, but it’s of a much more subtle, subdued kind.
A new dawn of electronic experimentalism has befallen the band, with explosions of buzzing guitar exchanged for hypnotic synths and spacey, ambient samples, and singer Angus Andrews’ gritty, muffled howl on records past replaced by a smooth, at times baritone vocal that could belong to a tipsy Don Draper.
This is smart, clean, calculated music that transcends space and time. Sound heavy? It is. Opener ‘The Exact Color Of Doubt’ invites you aboard the spaceship, where you stay enclosed in an extraterrestrial metallic bullet until the album’s end. Andrews’ vocals shift between a deep drone echoing The National’s Matt Berninger on tracks like ‘No.1 Against The Rush’, while on ‘Ill Valley Prodigies’ he reaches a pitch as high and ethereal as Thom Yorke. The meaty bass and manic pace of ‘Brats’ catapults you into the middle of a dizzy, sweaty dancefloor, before you’re beamed back down to earth with ‘Annual Moon Words’, as Andrews’ fittingly concludes “I’m on my way down”.
Critically panned, Liars’ heavily experimental 2004 album They Were Wrong, So We Drowned saw the band fall off the deep end into conceptual oblivion. WIXIW dips its feet in the same unknown murky waters, but instead of drowning, it swims.
Who said the world’s biggest battle is between man and machine? WIXIW proves we can co-exist in perfect harmony.