Review Summary: Liars deliver a fragmented dance-punk record that is never short of utter vibrancy.
Liars are a band that constantly forbids anyone from pigeonholing them into one musical genre. They are also a group that consciously subverts the boundaries of what is considered "normal". Ironically, the band's high-octane debut, They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, is probably the closest Liars ever came to sounding "normal". This LP is an all-out dance-punk escapade with a devil-may-care attitude.
With a pure rush of adrenaline from start to finish, They Threw Us All In a Trench is raw, jagged, and irreverent. While Liars sound like a punk band on this record, they engage in plenty of experimentation that would come to be one of their defining traits. If the song titles alone don't amuse you, the songs themselves are quite entertaining and strikingly nonconformist. Sure, the established roots of traditional rock music are present, like drums and guitars, but Liars manipulate these instruments in a way that is fairly unusual. The melodies feel tangled and out of order and the rhythms are often exposed in utter disarray. Nevertheless, the sound is completely intentional. Liars are actively sabotaging convention, while surprisingly generating some fun, danceable tunes
What really sticks out on this record is its plethora of unexpected moments. With every track, the band delivers a different brand of energy while sticking faithfully to the noisiness that makes the record feel so in-your-face. Tracks like the aggressive "Tumbling Walls Buried Me In the Debris with ESG" utilize bizarre melodies and morph them into songs with a definable beat that can easily be detected. Once these danceable rhythms are unlocked from the noisy and muddy exteriors of these tracks, the music really comes to life. One example is the heated build up of "Grown Men Don't Fall In the River, Just Like That", in which Angus Andrew erupts with ferocity amidst a crunchy guitar riff, pulse-poudning percussion, and an infectious bassline. The song begins as a subtle but sinister bridge that soon unveils the band's most overt punk persona.
Liars consistently throw exciting bits of music at the listener, sometimes all at once. For instance, "Mr. Your on Fire Mr." begs for the most frantic of dancing with its variety of engaging sound effects placed between the cracks of each verse and, of course, lyrics screaming that you're on fire. Sometimes these moments feel forced, like on the weird but equally interesting "Nothing Is Ever Lost or Can Be Lost My Science Friend", but, for the most part these chaotic additions make the tracks feel all the more volatile without sacrificing their energy.
Liars also begin to explore on the record as well. The introduction of "We Live NE of Compton" sounds like a monumental tape being rewound while passing into another unfriendly dimension. The track shows off an edgy side of Liars with a unrestrained bass and an unfettered guitar. Then, of course, there is the thirty-minute epic at the end of the LP, "This Dust Makes That Mud". Clocking in at a duration longer than all of the preceding tracks combined, this track presents an addictive multitude of grating but stylish effects that will get any listener out of his or her seat. The best moments of the track are the climactic outbursts of vibrancy in which the volume picks up and these uncontrollable sounds run rampant.
This sonic explosion goes on for about eight minutes before the song transitions into a continuous four-second loop. Believe me when I say it goes on forever. While it really goes on for about twenty-two minutes, with a short four-second loop like this one, it feels like an eternity. It is a challenge not to let go and just move on, but the loop becomes quite hypnotizing if you play it all the way through. So why make it go on for so long? Are the Liars making some abstract artistic statement? Are they trying to frustrate the listener? Maybe these guys just don't give a f***. Again, this is the Liars we're talking about.
The first Liars LP is certainly an intriguing listen. The band embraces a punk sound, but never settles into one established method. Some of the tracks on here are slightly lackluster in comparison to the standout tracks, but, regardless the trio maintains their corrosive sound throughout the record. As you may surmise after giving this record a spin, these guys aren't out there to make friends.
We Live NE of Compton
This Dust Makes That Mud
Grown Men Don't Fall In the River, Just Like That
Tumbling Walls Buried Me In the Debris with ESG