A superb sixth album from a band truly in a field of its own.
John Doran 2012-06-06
Of all the bands to emerge out of London and New York’s post punk/punk funk revival of a decade ago, only Liars and LCD Soundsystem really transcended pastiche and retro stylings to create something completely new. James Murphy’s grizzled dance crew wanted to put the art back into party and in so doing captured the essence of the decade with its hipster panic, MP3 playlists and obscure artist torrents. Meanwhile Liars sought to create their own sonic universe that existed as a space with as few formal connections to their peers as possible. And while their first three albums contained echoes of Can, This Heat, the Butthole Surfers and Bauhaus, it was safe to say that they possessed a singular talent and vision.
Their fourth self-titled album – despite containing some great songs – was a brief misfire, being too much in awe of alt-rock’s canonical history; but they got back on track with Sisterworld in 2010, a furious paean to their HQ city of Los Angeles. But if said set steadied their ship, with WIXIW (pronounced Wish You) Liars have changed direction again, this time producing their ‘electronic pop’ statement.
Gone are the howling guitars and screamed vocals of Scarecrows On A Killer Slant to be replaced by sumptuous analogue synthesisers (which have been sculpted to perfection by their label boss and producer Daniel Miller). Now that we’ve moved remorselessly out of the age of innovation and into one of refinement it’s often hard to pin down exactly what we mean by modern music, but certainly the reference points on WIXIW are modern compared to what most of Liars’ peers sound like. For example, on the crystalline Octagon, Aphex Twin’s Icct Hedral and Radiohead’s Everything in Its Right Place are reference points, but stripped of Richard James’ towering sonic dementia and Thom Yorke’s cloying neuroses.
WIXIW works best when it has its eyes set on the dancefloor or the radio. Brats is a driving electro number that burrows into your head and inserts itself as a particularly resilient earworm after just one listen, while A Ring on Every Finger is a slower yet no less insistent bleep’n’bass number. WIXIW is an unqualified success and, now that LCD are no longer with us, its makers are truly are in a field of their own.