released Mar 9th, 2010

from the album - Scissor

from all music

Liars were conceived in November 2000 after two friends and ex-Los Angeles art students, Aaron Hemphill and Angus Andrew, reunited in New York City. They responded to a "musicians wanted" ad posted in a local record store by two Nebraskans, Pat Noecker and Ron Albertson. The lurching Aussie Andrew took on the vocal/frontman duties while Hemphill became their guitarist and drum machine programmer. Bassist Noecker and drummer Albertson make up the Liars rhythm section. Combined, they write music — surprisingly formulated after the beats are laid down on the drum machine — exhibiting fundamental elements of punk rock. Synthetic keypads, vocal modulation, and interspersed prearranged compositions, mixed with their guitar-bass-drums equation, create angular yet melodic songs. Liars are reminiscent of U.K. groups that embraced dance music during the late '70s/early '80s (A Certain Ratio, Gang of Four, the Slits) — bands that are all known for insidiously adding danceable rhythms to punk.

Only months after forming, the group played its first show. Liars' debut album, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, was released on independent Gern Blandsten Records in October 2001 and was later reissued by Blast First/Mute. The album was recorded in just two days by producer/engineer Steve Revitte, who's best known for this work with the Beastie Boys and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Late the following year, Noecker and Albertson left the band and percussionist Julian Gross was recruited as a replacement. The trio began recording the second Liars album at Andrew's house in the forests of New Jersey with friend and co-producer Dave Sitek. The results, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, which was inspired by experimental electronic music and German legends about witchcraft, arrived in early 2004. After moving to Berlin, Liars got even more ambitious on Drum's Not Dead, a concept album revolving around creativity and doubt accompanied by short films by the band and other filmmakers. The band took a much more stripped-down approach for 2007's self-titled album, which featured more structured songwriting and a harder-edged sound. For 2010's Sisterworld, Liars returned to Los Angeles and mixed their high-concept atmospherics with blistering outbursts.

album review

After taking a break from concepts with their self-titled album, Liars return to themed songs with Sisterworld, an album about the alternate spaces people create to survive in Los Angeles — and they’re just as weird, thought-provoking, scary, funny, and ambitious as ever. This is the first time the band has recorded in the U.S. since They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, working in several studios across L.A. It’s a homecoming for Liars in more ways than one. The band formed officially in Brooklyn, but Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill were art students in the City of Angels, and Sisterworld’s eclectic sprawl suggests that L.A. is the band’s spiritual home. Likewise, Liars revisit some previous sounds and ideas, but go deeper into them. More importantly, they reassert themselves as masters of uneasy listening: Sisterworld is a messed-up place, with the feeling of rampant urban decay and too many people, too many cars, and too many buildings rubbing up against each other. Liars use their whole spectrum of fear and paranoia, mixing their fiery and dreamy sides in unpredictable ways. “Scissor” begins the album with mournful choral vocals, piano, and bassoon, then snaps into violent rock; as Andrew sings of finding an injured woman and taking her to a parking lot, it’s unclear whether he’s hurting her or saving her. This confusion is key to Sisterworld. Unlike the more clearly defined targets in the band’s previous conceptual albums, Liars visit increasingly abstract territory here. “Here Comes All the People”’s vertiginous melody and swarming whispers reek of claustrophobia, while “Drip”’s fixation with disease and sinking sub-bass suggests being attacked from within. Sisterworld’s louder songs are just as complicated. “Scarecrows on a Killer Slant” throbs with self-righteous hatred, led by a monstrous synth bass and guitars sick with distortion as Andrew shouts “How can they be saved from the way they live everyday!?” “The Overachievers” is that song’s flipside, a snarky rant about bio-car driving hipsters who let their lives slide away with surfing and smoking weed; it's the album’s funniest, and maybe most incisive, track. Elsewhere, the band puts a perversely pop spin on Sisterworld’s pervasive dread with “No Barrier Fun”; adds brassy heft to its despair with “Goodnight Everything”; and exits these alternate spaces with “Too Much, Too Much,” the album’s most reassuring track (despite its mention of demons). Though the concept and the band’s handling of it are impressive, listeners don’t have to be aware of it to appreciate the almost tangible moods Liars create on each song. Despite its explosive moments, Sisterworld is a surprisingly subtle album, one designed to make you think twice about the worlds behind the faces you pass on the street.

Track Listing

1. "Scissor" 3:39
2. "No Barrier Fun" 2:58
3. "Here Comes All the People" 3:28
4. "Drip" 4:15
5. "Scarecrows on a Killer Slant" 4:15
6. "I Still Can See an Outside World" 3:14
7. "Proud Evolution" 5:03
8. "Drop Dead" 3:37
9. "The Overachievers" 3:16
10. "Goodnight Everything" 4:33
11. "Too Much, Too Much" 3:59