Add to My MSN

Music Review: Liars - WIXIW

6/7/2012 2:34:02 PM

Tags: Music Reviews, Experimental Rock, Suzanne Lindgren

 Liars album cover
Liars
WIXIW
Available now on Mute Records (June 5, 2012)

The Liars sixth full-length album is all about advancing boundaries. Since the band’s first experimental rock release in 2001, it has been resolute in defying genre designations, preferring instead to experiment with sound and rhythm. WIXIW is no exception. Even its title shares in the desire to challenge expectation. The configuration of letters seems as much about shapes as it does about meaning. The palindrome is to be pronounced, “wish you.” Read this way, the title carries hope and promise beside other possibilities: longing, anxiety, confusion.

The album is full of similarly muddled emotions. Much of WIXIW consists of otherworldly ambient-electronic tracks, ranging in sentiment from welcoming to sinister. The album opener, “The Exact Color of Doubt” invites listeners into an expansive soundscape decorated with rhythmic hand clapping. But the next track, “Octagon,” leads them into a dark, bass-filled underworld embellished with the chatter of bats and mice. The quick change in tone invites comparisons to Aphex Twin and Amon Tobin, who displayed a similar dexterity in their ability to both soothe and frighten.

Liars band

After the first two tracks, almost all of WIXIW is a blend of beauty and distortion. The upbeat rhythm driving “No.1 Against The Rush” is tinged with warped guitar. The playful melodies and rhythms of “Ring On Every Finger” and “Flood to Flood” are countered by ominous, droning vocals. “Ill Valley Prodigies” balances an air of suspicion with endearing vulnerability. The title track is catchy despite its anxious beat and schizophrenic melody. Those who make it to “Annual Moon Words,” will discover a meditative psych-rock backwater, apparently designed to usher them safely from the voyage that has been this album.

Music is powerful, and going into dark, scary places with a stranger requires a degree of trust. It’s your own ghosts you’ll encounter, and you don’t even know where you’re going. Sometimes a listener can justify picking a few favorite tracks and skipping through the uncomfortable parts, but WIXIW does not clearly distinguish between the bright and dark. For many, this will make it hard to get inside the music. Still, radiance interlaced throughout will offer almost any listener rewards. With WIXIW, Liars review experimental rock as they forge new territory. They explore a junk yard, a good dream, a crime scene. They’re making something from it all, and they’re asking you to come along.



Related Content

Six Bands, Sweet Tunes

The Utne Reader/Anti- Records music showcase at South by Southwest went off spectacularly, drawing a...

Parting Thoughts from Rocky Mountain News Staffers

The Columbia Journalism Review has compiled a hefty list of goodbyes from Rocky Mountain News staffe...

A Hip-Hop Whodunit

Did a St. Louis hip-hop record exec use his label to wash hundreds of thousands of dollars of drug m...

Corn-Fed Blogging

This Thursday, January 3, marks the first major contest in the 2008 road to the White House: the Iow...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!