The Lineup


Los Angeles, Calif.

Liars have been around for over a decade now and have earned their reputation as ’00s experimental rock vets, but Liars still feel and sound like a “new” band. Maybe that's because they've maintained a reputation as sonic shape-shifters over the entirety of their increasingly impressive career. Throw all of the band's albums into an iTunes playlist, grab a friend with little-to-no-intimate knowledge of their catalog, and randomly play any two songs that appear on different albums. There’s an excellent chance that they’ll be able to tell the difference—even frontman Angus Andrew's vocals have taken various shapes, from a piercing falsetto to a menacing bark to a dead-eyed incantatory moan. These days, plenty of artists favor mysticism or identity obfuscation in order to create interest where their music might not. Liars are often cryptic about their “next move” because, in the end, we're taking the journey as listeners with them while they're charting it out. That journey is always thrilling.

Liars are survivors, too, in a few ways. Whether intentionally or not, the title of their first album, 2000's They Threw Us in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, acted as a commentary on the instant pigeonholing the band received due to the record's of-the-moment dance-punk sound. They replied with a few wild-eyed one-off releases (including an excellent split with Oneida), and 2003’s colossally misunderstood sound-collage LP, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. The record took inspiration from the old days of witch-hunting, and many critics followed suit by burning the band at the stake, mistaking good-old-fashioned noisemaking for antagonism. On the bright side, that album's ill-perceived failure set the stage for a perfect "comeback" in the form of 2006's hallucinatory, incandescent Drum's Not Dead, a heavy trip that takes its cues as much from the Berlin-based art-rock of the 1970s as much as it does psych warriors like Hawkwind and Boredoms.

After a double-blast of rock re-contextualization in the form of 2007's self-titled effort and 2010's Sisterworld, Liars are getting weird again with their forthcoming sixth proper LP, WIXIW (pronounced "Wish you"). Produced in part with Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, who the group has referred to as their "idol,” WIXIW represents another sharp left turn, embracing dissonant noise, ramshackle samples, and bummed-out electronic textures to create an atmosphere of unease and nervousness. Recorded in the band's own Los Angeles studio, WIXIW carries shades of early industrial and electronic music, as well as the jumbled melodic missives of Radiohead's 2001 album Amnesiac-.

In the end, the new sound's all Liars, exactly what we've come to expect from a band that's taught us to never know what to expect. —Larry Fitzmaurice