Not to be trusted
Liars are a New York band none of whose members are from New York. Parody, mischief and contempt for the mainstream ooze from every pore. These are not the people to leave in a room with a pair of scissors and your kid sister’s collection of Darius posters.
Just when you think you’re finally about to get a handle on their slippery punk-funk manifesto, you unfold the sleeve only to find it completely blank other than for a picture of the four of them slumped lifeless along the bottom edge. All except for Australian singer Angus Andrew that is, who, one eyebrow raised, smirks back at us from below a pencil moustache.
The hall of mirrors continues once you press play. Song titles are replaced by obscure lines snatched from child-like conversation or, at best, anagramatical crossword clues. It’s up to us to figure them out. Opener ‘Grown men don’t fall in the river, just like that’ builds into a pulverising Gang Of Four-ish thrash over which Angus screams “Wake Up/We’ve got our fingers on the pulse of America”; a searing ‘Mr your on fire Mr’ starts with Angus howling “Do the twist!”. and then burbles into a PiL meets the Birthday Party iced-funk. Nailed to the dancefloor by Flea-like bassist Pat Nature, and dragged up to date by hip-hop beats and random electronica, musically Liars are taut as a tightrope. Whenever the temperature looks like getting too steamy, guitarist Aaron Hemphill applies droning, hypnotic guitar-fx to bring us back to freezing point. Angus, meanwhile, screams for absolution, clemency and at times, like he’s just come from the amputation ward via David Lynch’s place.
Like a lost child running through a freakshow, Angus knows disaster is imminent. For the chilling half-hour finale ‘the dust that makes mud’ he goes missing completely, and we’re left searching for clues as the band writhe eerily into the night.
Far chillier than fellow NY-ites The Rapture and infinitely spookier than ARE Weapons, Liars only unsettling objective is to draw us into their dark delerium and show the world up as a gilded palace of false promises. Not to be trusted.
Or are they?