The last Liars record, Drum's Not Dead, was pretty cool, but I had some reservations about it. Part of this was the weird rip I had which killed the flow. I got more into it when I heard it on vinyl. But part of it was this feeling of doubting the sincerity of the band. They had put out a record I liked, They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top, and they kept on switching it up, various EPs. There was this impression they wouldn't stay still, and then their second record came out, which a lot of people hated, and they said they consciously removed everything that people said they liked about the first record, so it wouldn't become a crutch. I think all of this is great, and I liked They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. I saw a lot of continuity between that and all their other stuff. Then Drum's Not Dead came out, and it actually did seem really different. I read an interview where they talked about listening to Sunn O))) records. The first record was compared to post-punk, and it just started to feel a little bit like trend-hopping, somehow inorganic. But there were moments that still felt really sincere- notably the last track, "The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack." The first time I listened to the record I was so excited I just say down in a comfortable chair to listen to it as intently as I could. I ended up falling asleep, but that last track woke me up. Not because it's loud, there's just this clarity to it, this palpable emotion that's completely different from all of their other songs I would consider favorites. Someone posited it as a response to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps," because both bands lead singers were dating for awhile, and this seemed likely. Anyway, that song was like placing a flag at some very high point, the peak of a mountain, to use their metaphor. It claimed some territory for its own, after sneaking there in the night. It's a sudden moment, although it brings out a lot of the record after you've heard it. Like, "Oh, that's where this is going."
The new record then is able to roam around this territory, broader than it's been before. And so Liars are a rock band now. It's not just all these type of dancefloor fistfights and broken windows of the first few records, or the weird night in the woods of Drum's Not Dead. Emotion has been addressed by "The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack," and now it's just a thing that can be there, that can pop up on a song like "Pure Unevil" and not be a big deal.
It keeps on popping up. There's anthems and there's pop songs- Some people were making Jesus And Mary Chain comparisons, but "Houseclouds" makes me think of some Blur song or another. Alex also pointed out that some of the songs are like some of their more abstract b-sides, which is also true, only they've been turned into songs, albeit some of the less poppy songs on the record.
The first song starts off not so good, as the bad kind of drone-rocker, where "rock" is the goal but "drone" is what's achieved, seemingly accidentally- where the chords are being slashed away at, but it just seems tedious, like the chords aren't being changed enough, and there just isn't enough a sense of dynamics- but then there is a shift, and the second half becomes really interesting, and it becomes clear that the opening was just a further carving out a place, another flag planted. Liars are an amazing band.