Monday, September 17, 2007

The Liars

Speaking of autumnal music, you can do worse than pick up the excellent new record by the Liars. I've always liked this odd Brooklyn-LA trio for some time, though I've never been as familiar with their music as Monsieur Catalogues. Their fourth album, titled The Liars, is a beautiful and bizarre wash of choral tones, Yeatsian lyrics, and guitars and keyboards that alternately evoke blue plateglass and fire-coloured leaves in the fall breeze.

The music swims back and forth between a relatively cold, distant vibe (possibly augmented by the fact that frontman Angus Andrews' vocals are nearly always obscured by effects of some sort) and warm, crackling immediacy. I can't quite decide whether this music is polished noise or baroque, ornamental lo-fi. One of the things that makes the Liars so appealing is that the band is inventive in an instrumental sense; the guitars, synths, drums, and vocals on this album simply don't sound like anything else. Certainly not anything else right now. I suppose it could be compared to the Animal Collective, but that would make the Liars the dark smokey blues bar to Animal Collective's rollicking pastoral wonderland. The Liars are Edward Hopper to Animal Collective's Matisse, I suppose you could say.

Another thing that makes this album so goddamned fascinating is the diversity of the songs. The Liars have a certain sound, no doubt about it, and that sound encapsulates this entire album, but I think I can say with some accuracy that the individual songs here vary quite a lot in tone and structure and atmosphere. "Sailing to Byzantium" is dreamlike, warm, and hynoptic; listening to it I felt like I was, well, sailing to Byzantium (an essay could be written comparing the Liars and Yeats, surely). A song like "Clear Island," on the other hand, is cerebral and cold. Both are superb.

Every song is worthy of some serious attention, though. This is a challenging album, and one that will reward you with more aural joys and wonders than most this year.

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