The Liars: Sisterworld
The Liars: Sisterworld
A certain friend loathes the Liars above all other bands. It started circa 2004, when the then-New York-based three-piece put out its sophomore record, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. Specifically, he tagged the band as narcissists, which can safely be understood to mean "jerk offs"--a band weird for its own sake. In fairness, that generally divisive record is a concept album about witches, and doesn't do a particularly good job of being a concept album about witches. More importantly, it was probably one of the first records of its kind to hit his, and many people's, indie-rock tuned ears--as in, one of the first indie-rock bands of its generation to fuck with electronics and noise, a latter-day punk outfit having its experimental cake and eating it too. And people hated it.
The funny thing is that almost every band rising in underground music in recent years is making at least some half-cocked reach at putting some kind of avant-garde nod into its work. So Liars, and that record, don't sound all that strange now, when they're on their fifth full-length album. Instead, they've become really, really good at everything (except lyrics, which you'd do well to ignore). And, somehow, that makes them even more dangerous. Example: "The Overachievers," a song ostensibly about Los Angeles creative-class yuppies, takes the whole big-deal contemporary lo-fi thing and makes it actually convincing. It's hard to pin down why, exactly, but it's something about the sheer arrogance with which Liars take it on, the swagger mixed with calculation mixed with wreckage.
Part of why They Were Wrong was actually so good was it felt like Liars were actually for reals trying to scare you and not, like, make fun of themselves trying to scare you (though that same witch tour had the then-drummer at the kit in a G-string, if memory serves). Likewise, when Angus Andrew caveman grunt/yells on "Scarecrows on a Killer Slant" "We should take the creeps out at night/ Drag them incomplete by their ears/ We should nail their thoughts to the wall/ Stand them in the street with a gun/ And then kill them all!," there's something there, a little warning chill that runs up the base of your spine, that makes it different from your run-of-the-mill toy noise-punk song. Sisterworld's not all menace--and even when it is, it's more ominous than out and out snarling--but this is a band, a perennial hype band at that, that's managed to stay convincing enough to give your average blog-watcher a kick and a start.