ALBUM REVIEW: Liars – Mess

I wrote this review as part of Southampton Solent’s ‘Magazine In a Day’ challenge. The whole Popular Music Journalism course were invited to create an Underground special edition of the uni’s Audio Addict magazine that would go live online later that night. The end result can be seen here:  http://issuu.com/audioaddict/docs/audioaddictunderground
We also recorded a podcast in which you can hear discussions of Underground music as well as some of the writers (including me) talking about the pieces they wrote. You can listen to the podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/theundergroundissue/audio-addict-underground-issue

1554367_10152197133349245_691751966_n With flashy LA Art School backgrounds and six previous albums under their belt, New York based trio Liars’ refusal to be categorised is still going strong with latest album Mess. Doting on electronics since their name-making debut in 2001, Liars have never been ones to shy away from criticism of their experimental ways. This album highlights the band continuing to push boundaries in order to create something original with house and industrial influences.

Mess opens with a robotic voice commanding, “take my pants off” and “eat my face off, give me your face”. Straight away you wonder what they’re going to do next. Gloomy vocals drone along to the kind of music you’d expect in a dark computer game from the 80s. At times there are hip-hop vibes shrouded in dark overtones which paired with the occasional howling vocals and a consistent beat help to maintain an eerie aura. Fluctuating instrumentation, particularly in ‘Boyzone’ gives off the feeling of the music literally travelling through your mind and perhaps even your soul.

‘Pro Anti Anti’ stands out as the ultimate battle between house and industrial. With a Rammstein aesthetic the underlying house beat creates an ideal balance, resulting in a well-rounded track. Meanwhile, cool down track ‘Can’t Hear Well’ continues on the house vibe yet this time with folky vocals, or at least as folky as Liars can go.

‘Mess On A Mission’ kicks in with a promising start with heavy focus on percussion and electro. The vocals seem to be undermined by this until you get to the chorus and you are hit with an abundance of lively lyrics that at first may seem piercing but give it time and this will be your favourite track.

If you’ve been listening to this album properly then the title of final track ‘Left Speaker Blown’ would be an appropriate outcome for you to expect. The album closes to a chilled out track that stays true to the Liars’ dark verve and moreover their abstinence from categorisation. There is a certain dynamic in the diversity of Mess that leaves you wanting to hear more.

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