Liars - Mess

Liars - Mess

Mute Records; 2014 (UK) | Dance, Electronic

Rating: A-

Over their 14-year career, Liars have embodied various musical guises. Originally a cerebral art punk unit which formed around the time of the alternative-dance-rock revival, the band have managed to rearrange themselves into a different musical configuration with each proceeding album. From the percussion heavy, drone-rock of 2004’s Drum’s Not Dead to the insular, schizophrenic post-punk of 2009’s Sisterworld, the band consistently stretch their musical boundaries and do so convincingly. It’s as if each record is comprised of a fresh set of aural components and an updated list of rules to abide by.

However, even though each project explores an alternate side of the genre spectrum, Liars always retain something intriniscally theirs. A dark, disturbing, sinister edge, which appears to have spawned from the more subconscious depths of the human psyche. Mess, the seventh album by this trio of experimental journeymen, is no exception.

In the opening track “Mask Maker,” a deep, octave affected voice bellows before leading into a plethora of jarring synths and pumping percussion. “Take my pants off / Use my socks /Smellmysocks/Eatmyfaceoff/Eatmy face off / Take my face / Give me your face.” The bold perversity present in the first twenty seconds of Mess straight away presents a contrast to 2012’s reflective, electronic effort WIXIW. Mess is ferocious, visceral. It is predominantly a dance record, but one that seems to have been molded in some nightmarish alternate reality. One where haunting, primal vocals gyrate over layers of angular synth lines and brooding, unrelenting rhythm.

Unlike most other dance records, instead of propelling listeners to chill out or escape to greener pastures, Mess revels in an undercurrent of uneasiness and discordance. Tracks such as “I’m No Gold,” “Pro Anti Anti” and “Vox Tuned D.E.D.” are feverish in their pursuit of some sort of subversive euphoria, whereas “Can’t Hear Well” and “Left Speaker Blown” are more introspective, yet still prevalent with an air of psychosis. In sequence, they form a bewildering collection of grimy, electronic pieces.

“Fact is fact and fiction’s fiction / Mess on a mission / Mess on a mission / Mess on a mission,” Angus Andrew yells on the track “Mess on a Mission.” A mantra which epitomises the record perfectly. Embrace the dirt, the chaos, the mess.
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Adrian Ng.