Liars // WIXIW
Pronounced 'Wish You', Liars sixth album offers a landscape of radical weirdness - but as Ric Rawlins discovers, there be gold nuggets within. Arr.
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Frankie Fontaine was just nineteen years old when he was abducted by UFOs from his patio in France, and then dumped in a cabbage field several miles away. Months later, he was putting ketchup on his fries in a diner when memories of the aliens began to come back to him.
Likewise, the last time we saw Liars they were an almost conventional group - or at least a group who messed about with guitars, drums and things, having evolved out of their earlier punk-funk pants. But now the ketchup is on the fries (to coin a phrase) and the Liars of 'Sisterworld' have woken in a stranger place… they have become the Liars of 'WIXIW'.
So just what the dang does that mean Martha? Put it this way: don't ask the band. "If we're not confusing ourselves," they said last month, "we've failed." They certainly haven't failed in confusing us. One minute the title track is a John Cale-esque electro landscape of droning weirdness, the next 'Ill Valley Prodigies' opens the windows onto an Octoberish and rustic field, all ghost folk and raven squawk.
Angus sounds like he's floating in a sensory depravation tank of synth bliss during 'The Exact Colour Of Doubt', then takes on a Bowie-ish sci-fi persona for 'A Ring On Every Finger', which sees rainstick rhythms and digital glitches swimming round each other in a luminous fish tank.
If you're sat there thinking "luminous fish tank, WTF?" then feel free to switch to 'Brats', a full on industrial dance number which takes the DFA disco groove into starlit psychedelia, or the meditational forest magic of 'Annual Moon Words', the feel good hit of the record - and a hare krishna to boot!
At first listen it's tempting to assume that Liars have "done a R******ad" and submerged themselves in experimental glitchtronics and liquid moogs. Yet 'WIXIW's textural landscapes are merely the wrapping paper for a transgressive and varied album that offers dance highs as well as underwater existentialism.