Liars has been around for awhile, yet with every album, its psychedelic, experimental style is redefined, giving the band a rep of savage unpredictability. Since its debut, Salem witch trial-themed concept album They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top, the band has taken us through wild erratic soundscapes all the way to WIXIW’s relatively minimalist electro-punk in 2012. This time around, the trio—Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross—have returned to that unhinged nature with their seventh studio effort, Mess. Slashing the bounds of normality and discipline, this album has the band mastering the electronic techniques it introduced previously to produce adrenaline-filled heavy-hitters.
Stylistically, Mess is one of Liars’ most manic works to date. The album’s opener, Mask Maker, begins with Angus Andrew’s voice droned out to sound like a creepy sexual robot saying, “Take my pants off/Use my socks/Smell my socks/Eat my face off.” After hearing that, you’re left unsure if you want to continue listening or curl up into a ball. But those of us who can see past the façade, catch a glimpse of humor and get to enjoy a bold and danceable club banger. “Vox Tuned D.E.D” and “I’m No Gold” are also powerful jams with pumping beats that keep up the intensity established from the start. From there, the ferocity is amassed and released in the thumping and rebellious “Pro Anti-Anti.”
Album single “Mess On A Mission” stands out as this album’s lightest and most fun track, pushing the tempo forward with bouncy, sporadic beats and falsetto vocals chanting “Facts are facts and fiction’s fiction.” Even with such an energetic track, Liars keeps up its spontaneity and in the case of Mess On A Mission, you really get the sense that the band will keep moving on in spite of its own peculiarities.
The album’s dark energy and drowned out vocals only build as the album moves towards its end. “Darkslide” is mostly instrumentals with minimal background vocals featured subtly in the background. “Perpetual Village” is about nine minutes of industrial sounds grinding and scraping your eardrums until the drawn-out synths of “Left Speaker Blown” close off the album. It’s as if Liars structured the last few tunes to represent coming down from the high you get from that initial fierce blow.
Mess shows how Liars has gained a confident grasp on how to incorporate its relatively untread electronic instrumentation with its eccentric musical perspective. Sonically, the capricious trio has brought about a fresh positive energy while still delving into the darkness that has always been present throughout their career. Where the band will go next is uncertain, but undoubtedly we can always rely on Liars to bring something both unconventional and ingenious to its fans every time.