Jun 05, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer
WIXIW opens with a big synthesizer string pad, an electro kick drum, some chopped-up snare, and Angus Andrew's melodic meanderings, soon joined by some faint IDM handclap rhythms. This sets the mood for yet another iteration of Liars—not the rockist-leaning Liars of 2010's Sisterworld or 2007's eponymous affair, but a sort of Liars 3.0, picking up on those occasional electronic inclinations and running with them.
Yes, drum machine's not dead. Take a look at (well, a listen to) these songs: "No. 1 Against the Rush" plods along mechanically—snare-kick-snare-kick-snare—like a Kraftwerk highway tune. "Who Is the Hunter" hints at a bit of dark house music—not quite Dirty Vegas or anything, mind you, but in some weird universe, it might appear in a car commercial. "Brats" goes all the way there with four-on-the-floor aplomb, Andrew opining over it with industrial distorto-vox.
It's not an entirely electronic world, still soaking in occasional dissonance: Strange loops of found noises offer texture; Andrew grounds things with his very human approach, those trademark mumbles and falsettos; the guitars still grace a few of the songs; and so on. Take "Flood to Flood," for example, with its massive synth bass and start/stop drumbeat, it's a drone- and rhythm-fest worthy of such '60s and '70s electronic pioneers as Neu! and Silver Apples. "A Ring On Every Finger" is actually funky. How often does that adjective appear in Liars reviews? It lands somewhere between Beck's narcotic earlier work (it's the drum loop and Andrew's mumbles that make this dubious comparison spot-on) and the sleeker electronic directions of Radiohead and their ilk.
Individual song call-outs aside, it's more about the whole. WIXIW succeeds at carrying a consistent, immersive mood from start to finish, possibly more than any of the group's output. It's the most 'electronic' of their albums, no question—more dance than dance-punk. It's dark and restrained, but surging and propulsive—a late-night drive, a satisfying dose of dark Fahrvergnügen in a dystopian Blade Runner fantasy (or simply Los Angeles). And it's killer, of course: Liars continue to stay delightfully fresh and impressively relevant through every careful reinvention. (www.liarsliarsliars.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10