Even after such wonderful past LPs, Sisterworld is perhaps Liars’ masterpiece.
Ian Wade 2010-03-02
Liars have been making music for a decade, and while they were initially seen as part of the post-Strokes malaise of bands to check out, they sit much more on the extreme side of the musical landscape – they were always more Pussy Galore and Sonic Youth than skinny-jeaned new-wave revival.
2001’s debut album, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, set out their stall immediately, taking the dance-punk form and dissecting it into art noise. By the release of second album We Were Wrong So They Drowned – a conceptual affair about witchcraft – the band was capable of conjuring genuinely unsettling pieces of work. In 2006 they ramped up their perverse side with the Drums Not Dead tunes-with-films release, which pushed their wilful experimentation and abundance of ideas into near-on unlistenable territories, something they reined in with a more straightforward self-titled release the following year.
Even after taking such previous form into consideration, Sisterworld is perhaps their masterpiece, showcasing as it does all strands of the Liars sound so far. The album was influenced by its surroundings, with the band getting up to all manner of scrapes during its making – shootings on the doorstep, drug mobsters smashing through the wall of singer Angus Andrew’s apartment. It also details the death of positivity in a time when there was very little, and all that was symbolised in their surroundings, slowly coalescing Sisterworld into a gleaming nightmare.
There’s much to recommend: Scissor opens the album like a posthumous Four Seasons jumped on by Tom Waits; the clumpy afro-wobble-funk of No Barrier Fun gets things grooving menacingly, while Scarecrows on a Killer Slant, about that shooting, is dumb stone-age noise, like someone picking up a guitar for the first time. Proud Evolution is more like the sound you’d hear as you are being dragged to your own sacrifice, and closer Too Much, Too Much rotates and drones like a cosmic, please-find-me-Jesus hangover.
They are unlikely to be part of a Facebook campaign to get to number one anytime soon but, as a thrilling, dense and slightly barmy proposition, Sisterworld is the ideal entrance that any floating voters had been looking for.