While Madonna is known as the mother of reinvention, Liars do more than costume and hair-do changes – they come at your ears with a whole new sonic persona, one that surprises and delights while challenging you in wonderful ways. Case in point, WIXIW, an album title that causes one to pause at the pronunciation. For the record, it’s “wish you,” as in, wish you would explain that one.
So Angus Andrew does, “’wish you’ is a familiar and universal sentiment of longing and hope, but when misspelt becomes uniquely shrouded and difficult to interpret, which in many ways is representative of our music and the songs we wrote for this album.”
Because Liars is skilled at turning a new leaf, but on a different hemisphere each time, some fans may not realize that WIXIW is the band’s sixth album.
There is indeed a catalog going back 11 years, including 2001’s They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (a significantly longer album title), and 2004’s They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, a sauntering, staggering journey through the junkyard at 3:11am after an opium binge at a 24-hour Indian restaurant that Trent Reznor recommended. In 2006 came Drums Not Dead, 2007 a self-titled album, and in 2010, Sisterworld, comprised of anthems that seem to written for the rhythms of building the pyramids in Egypt, propagating music themes to accompany the slaves as they made their exodus from capture and into Babylon.
On WIXIW, the aural trip floats, defying gravity from the get-go on track 1, “The Exact Color of Doubt,” where the vocals slowly maneuver in and around a keyboard line that moves at 10,000 leagues under the sea, with a tweaked percussion sample that sounds like hand claps bouncing around in your brain.
As you move deeper down the black “wish” hole, there is a common thread, a systematic heart beat, a pace that moves faster than the top layer of vocals and drawn out lyrics, as if its attempting to get ahead, but then the beats get lost in their own glorious interstellar cloud.
Moments of grace appear, especially on “WIXIW,” “Who Is The Hunter,” and “Ill Valley Prodigies.” Comparisons of Liars to Radiohead have risen in the past, and while I tend to shy away from the tired ways to describe a band to the unknown ear, a moment of recognition came to pass in “…Prodigies,” but in a way that inspiration came from reverse osmosis (i.e., Yorke’s 500qd remix of “Proud Evolution”).
The band’s attention to detail is highly apparent, as repeat listens allows the cranium to pick up on the many synapses of orchestration taking place beyond Oz’s curtain, as on the track “His And Mine Sensations.”
Liars released an accompanying video to support the release of WIXIW, and in true form, the 3:12 minute quirky episode is far from the cliché “here’s what we were thinking when we wrote the album” piece, although they did spend some time writing in a cabin, which is becoming as common as band members meeting in art school.
That’s the only ordinary thing one can identify in the world of Liars and the music they make. In an era of mediocrity, auto-tune, and cookie-cutter song production, WIXIW reminds us (thankfully) that not everything that’s ‘new’ is a flashback to something already done. Ingenuity, along with a bit of insanity, and what I expect were many moments of sleep deprivation, can indeed be the mother of invention.
Liars WIXIW is available on vinyl with a digital download at your local record store and at the Mute store: http://mute.hasawebstore.com/.
Liars began their tour in New York City at the end of June and will stay on the road through the end of July. Liars come to Denver this coming Friday, July 13, a lucky day for us.
Remaining tour dates:
Monday 7/9 – The Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC
Wednesday 7/11 – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
Friday 7/13 – The Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
Saturday 7/14 – The Granada – Lawrence, KS
Sunday 7/15 – The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
Tuesday 7/17 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
Wednesday 7/18 – Mad Planet – Milwaukee, WI
Thursday 7/19 – Metro – Chicago, IL
Friday 7/20 – Magic Stick – Detroit, MI
Saturday 7/21 – Lee’s Palace – Toronto, ON
Monday 7/23 – La Sala Rossa – Montreal, QC
Tuesday 7/24 – Paradise – Boston, MA
Wednesday 7/25 – U Street Music Hall – Washington DC
Thursday 7/26 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
Friday 7/27 – Grog Shop – Cleveland Heights, OH
Saturday 7/28 – A&R Music Bar – Columbus, OH