Liars
Mess


3.5
great

Review

by Justin Swope USER (82 Reviews)
March 25th, 2014 | 50 replies


Release Date: 03/24/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Liars unleash a barrage of shameless intensity on their latest iteration.

By now, Liars have quite the reputation for aggressively changing direction with each and every release. Typically, their music acts as the monster behind the unstable door, exuding an ever-haunting presence. With Mess, the band’s seventh studio album, that monster has finally been revealed, gritting its teeth. Rather than slowly crawling under the listener’s skin as previous albums did, Liars utilize a more beat-oriented approach to break that door down.

Liars first embraced electronics on their last LP, WIXIW. With the exception of “Brats”, that album bears little resemblance to Mess. Like WIXIW, Mess is primarily an electronic record, yet it eschews much of the cold atmosphere of its predecessor in favor of a more skittish and bombastic frontal assault on the ears. “Mask Maker” is not as much a tone setter as it is a shameless brandisher. The low-pitched utterances that ignite the track might scare off unprepared listeners, but seasoned Liars listeners will recognize the band’s twisted brand of humor. The first few tracks set off what seems to be a dance party for schizophrenics.

Combining slick production with erratic electro-beats and synthesizers, Mess channels the punk aesthetic that has always factored into the band’s sound, then amplifies it. There is a considerable variety of styles on this album, perhaps more than on any of the band’s previous records. Though the final product is not unified, it's not as if it's supposed to be. Just look at the title. Standout track “Can’t Hear Well” contains an undulating beat that grows organically throughout its duration. However, this song is much more stripped down when compared to tracks like “Pro Anti Anti”, which unleash a sonic fury in a manner that is very entertaining. Still, repetition acts as the hammer and nail that drive intense tracks like “Vox Tuned D.E.D”.

Liars bring some relatively softer moments to the backend of the album as well. “Left Speaker Blown” is perhaps the most intriguing aberration on this album, with its spacious ambience and reverberating vocal melodies. Angus Andrew’s vocals have always formed a solid foundation of Liars’ hair-raising tangents, but they reach a special height on this track in particular. Crooning “I hope you never learn to play music,” Andrew gives this track and the end of the album a feeling of suffocation. “Boyzone” even brings elements of industrial music into what is otherwise a fairly textbook Liars song with its typical eerie undertones. Additionally, the twisting and turning that occurs within “Dress Walker” is equally enticing and unsettling.

However, the main drawback of Mess is the deficiency of mystery that has accompanied the stylistic shift of this album. The initial thrill slightly wears thin with repeated listens. Maybe it's because Liars have displayed so many different facets on this record, while, on past records, they tended to play their cards close to the vest, as if their music was a puzzle never to be solved. Though Mess is distinct from any individual work the band has done in the past, it also feels like something of an amalgamation of the attributes Liars have espoused over the years. There’s the belligerence of They Threw Us All In a Trench…, the visceral nature of magnum opus Drum’s Not Dead, and the vehemence of their self-titled album all coming together upon the electronic template laid out by WIXIW.

Thankfully, Liars have not relinquished their innate creepiness. Their confidence in this new direction shows in the undeniable punch that the album delivers. Though the album tends to wander all over the place, it’s never boring. The statement of intent that Mess provides is ambiguous at best, but by the time we figure it out, Liars will likely have moved in an entirely new direction. For the time being, we can enjoy Mess for what it is.

Favorite Tracks:

Can’t Hear Well

Left Speaker Blown

Pro Anti Anti

Vox Tuned D.E.D.

Dress Walker



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user ratings (90)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
jtswope
March 25th 2014


2140 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

http://mediasnobs.com/music-review/liars-mess/

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2014


10416 Comments


eat my face

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2014


3449 Comments


or at least the face of that dog in your avatar

hiyabootchie
March 25th 2014


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good review. Yeah I got it at a 3.5 right now as well. Hopefully it grows more. Album should be called Synths Not Dead. Not sure how I feel about them going completely electronic. However you can probably expect them to do something different and completely switch it up next album.

jtswope
March 25th 2014


2140 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Started as a 4 on the first few listens but grew off a bit. Still enjoying it though. I prefer WIXIW overall to this. I'm really curious as to what they do next.

OneMoreRoland
March 25th 2014


1050 Comments


Mask Maker is really great. Gonna give this a spin

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2014


6448 Comments


Not as big of a fan of this as I was of WIXIW or the self-titled, but it's still a cool record.

Nice review.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

PuddlesPuddles
March 25th 2014


4772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know, I think Mask Maker is terrible. And I usually love Liars albums

Cygnatti
March 25th 2014


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sweet a review for this. :]

would rule even harder if it was like 10-15 minutes shorter.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2014


10198 Comments


heard the first two songs off this and wowee were they rough

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Cygnatti
March 25th 2014


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

by rough you mean, rly good. yea :D

hiyabootchie
March 26th 2014


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The second half of the album is probably the better part. They slow it down and expand the songs a bit.

SticksmanTheBored
March 26th 2014


206 Comments


This thing rules.

Wadlez
March 27th 2014


4087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Enjoying this less than their last release so far, potential grower.

Funeralopolis
March 27th 2014


11347 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sucks

Digging: No Joy - Wait to Pleasure

hiyabootchie
March 27th 2014


350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Drum's Not Dead
WIXIW
Sisterworld
Mess
Self Titled
(haven't listened to their first one)

Funeralopolis
March 27th 2014


11347 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

WIXIW
Drum's Not Dead
Liars
Sisterworld
They Threw Us All
Mess
They Were Wrong


PuddlesPuddles
March 27th 2014


4772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Shoot me with a flaming dick but I actually liked They Were Wrong (more than this, possibly)

deathschool
March 31st 2014


8073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mess on a mission kicks ass. I can definitely see myself getting into these guys.

Digging: Thumpermonkey - We Bake Our Bread Beneath Her Holy Fire

dylantheairplane
March 31st 2014


2170 Comments


This on vinyl and a good set of speakers is soooo good



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