Monday, March 29, 2004

I've decided for the next week I will write at least one review a day about recent musical arrivals to the house of womb. First up:

Liars They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (Mute). The first Liars disk was decent, but a bit too close to the current brand of depthless "new wave" that's been hyped in NYC lately. I must admit though I think the Yeah Yeah Yeah's got a good shot at being the next Blondie now that they've started to write songs and broken the MTV barrier, but that Liars debut, with the annoying title reminiscent of a rejected Godspeed You Black Emperor album title, seemed to confuse quasi philosophic politicking and "dance punk" (read as gang of four wankery with hip-hop beats) for some kind of interesting rock perspective. The music wasn't bad in a post Go4/Wire high on the chronic kind of way. Lots of energy, a cpl sweet freakouts, and at least two hippidy-hop break beats, but mostly what I remember are the affected sneers and all that rancid angularity, and little in the way of memorable songs. Call me a black souled cynic--I get it all the time.

They Were Wrong evinces a similar repellent quality, but in a much more compelling way. As we know, strife breeds great art, and this, a concept album inspired by the Walpurgisnacht, the date in German folklore when witches fly to Brocken mountain and perform rituals that celibrate Spring's arrival (the season of sex and war) and resulting witch hunts is about as cold and seductive at the same time as a rock record can be. It also has that rare gift of sounding fresh and unique. At a time when tons of lesser bands, The Rapture chief among them, are recognized by mass media outlets as funkafying/ revitalizing da punk, The Liars are actually doing just that!

On opener "Brocken Witch" pulsing synth buzzes in shadow over tantric drum fills, high-pitched guitar screech and chanted vocals culminating in a refraction of negative tension that spans the entirety of this breath-taking sonic adventure. It's just so refreshing to hear a band that realizes that "dance music" can be unnerving--the aural equivalent of a stun-gun to the spine--and still make you wanna get ya freak on, hang from rafters and dance around flaming pyres. At least half of this album is just astonishing to my ears: the sickly infectious pop/noise looping of "There's Always Room on a Broom" posits post-breakdown Beach Boys harmonies against squealing machine guitar noise. The phenominal drop-beat echo chamber punk psych of "Fenced Other Gardens With Bones of Our Own" has to be heard to be believed. And by the time we reach the paranoid anthem of "Holds Hands and It Will Happen Anyway", it's apparent we're swimming in murky, bubbling waters, and for some reason it feels really good. Come on in! The water's boiling.

With this album, The Liars leap way out ahead of the pack and make a hypnotic racket worthy of the praise of elitist blaggerts and alienated taste-makers such as myself that draws not just from the oblique guitar screech and clang of previously mentioned bands, but goes further into the realms of true post punk visionaries like This Heat and 23 Skidoo without sounding like just another tribute band at all. The production throughout is simply phenonenal. No lie, this is the r'n'r shit. Hear with no fear.

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