Creatively speaking, Berlin's Liars have to be one of the most hyperactive bands currently creating music. The band created one of the best modern dance-punk albums with their debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top
. However, unsatisfied with being part of a trend that currently dominates alternative music, Liars radically changed direction on their second effort, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
. Their just-released third album, Drum's Not Dead
is another concept album and further explores unfamilar territory.
Following the release of They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
, the Liars relocated to Berlin. Somewhat frustrated with New York, the band's overseas journey proved to be both liberating and inspirational for the group. Drum's Not Dead
is a concept album in which the band's relocation played a considerable part. The album's title refers to one of two fictional characters and their battle against each other in the creative process. Drum represents productivity while Mt. Heart Attack represents stress and self-doubt. Pretentious? Probably, but that's why it makes such an interesting concept.
Refusing to stay comfortable, Liars refrain from the noisy and angular sounds that dominated their first record. Drum's Not Dead
is generally a quiet and droning record with occasional outbursts of noise. Vocally, Angus Andrew shifts from mid-low (and sometimes monotonous) singing with the occasional song done in falsetto. Musically, the songs are often driven by tribal and jungle sounding percussive beats. The instrumentation ranges from simple and shimmering guitar lines to strange and rhythmic noises.
Being a concept album, there are a lot of shifts in mood, dynamics and focus throughout. The album opens with "Be Quiet Mt Heart Attack", a slowly building track that uses minimalistic but powerful drumming. The guitar is so monotonous and shimmery that it's next to impossible to tell what the guitar is doing and the listener can only conclude that it is simply present. The following track is based around a strange noise that sounds vaguely like a siren and more powerful drumming. The track features high vocals in a way that Thom Yorke would be proud of. Album single "It Fit When I Was A Kid" (which was released with a homoerotic cover photo containing band members' heads photoshopped in) is simply based around a one-note rhythmic bass line and pounding tribal percussion. The song changes halfway through to include a simple synthesiser part. Album highlight "The Other Side of Mt Heart Attack" closes off the album on an upbeat, yet quiet and repetetive note.
Arguably the best thing that Liars have released, Drum's Not Dead
is a wildly original, challenging and above all enjoyable record. With three fantastic albums to their credit, Liars have proven themselves capable of releasing quality albums that challenge both the band and the listener.
Both challenging and fun
Wildly interesting musical ideas
Well paced and interesting concept
A very slight dip in quality towards the middle of the album
Some listeners will find it too challenging
Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack!
It Fit When I Was A Kid
The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack
FINAL RATING: 4/5